Home or No Home For The Holidays
While some people will be drinking hot chocolate, eating toasted almonds, frosted cookies, dips, delicious meats, seasoned vegetables, and late night treats, others will have nowhere to go for the holidays. Even the people who have a place to go are often faced with the stress of being judged or judging themselves on their current accomplishments or riches compared to their friends and family. Do we have a loving partner? Do we have a great job we love? Do we have kids? Are we in shape? Do we even have a good relationship with our family?
We ponder this as the television plays stories of perfect families and happy holidays on repeat, as if to say, got this? No one has everything, and the holidays can leave us feeling wonting, defensive, and self-critical. I had a colleague who used to say, “Who needs holiday cheer, when you have holiday beer?” Alcohol seems to be a pretty imperfect solution though, as the more you drink the more you are prone to feeling depressed. It is after all a depressant. But, the thought of giving yourself some self-compassion was a nice one.
Self-Compassion For The Holidays
Hopefully, this year will be different. To move in that direction, we are going to use the secret formula I call BEAT IT. Yes, it is named after the famous song by Michael Jackson, and yes I imagine myself puffing my chest out to criminals with knives and singing Beat It, while I employ this strategy. Here is the strategy:
B- Be Aware
Be aware. Notice tension in your body. Decipher the feelings and thoughts that coexist with this tension. Soften around them.
E- Embrace The Feeling
Embrace the Feeling. Give yourself permission to feel that way. You have come by your feelings naturally. The holidays are difficult for everyone. Of course, you feel sad, conflicted, defensive, or anxious. You have good reason.
A- Ask Yourself If You Can Make Room
Ask yourself, if you can make room for this feeling. Despite the implicit requests from television re-runs, family, and friends that you run around with excitement as if you have just won the lottery, and been given the ok to live the rest of your life relaxing in the tub, your genuine experience is asking you to not try to suffocate it out of existence. Make room for that feeling, so that you can be filled with acceptance, and process that feeling, so that you are not burdened by its weight.
T- Take Some Time To Let It Pass
Take some time to let this feeling pass. Aunt Trudie has not seen you in ages, and she does not want to see you sad, but tough noogies. If she loves you, she will want you to be at ease with yourself. The only way that happens is to let your experience emerge and pass away at its natural pace. Rushing it just leads to more self-criticism about whether or not you are allowed to have certain feelings, and the length of time that you are allowed to have them.
I- It’s Time For Some Kindness
It’s time for some kindness once the feeling has passed. It is tough to have hard feelings during the holidays, and your body and mind need some compassion and reward for doing the hard work of acknowledging and managing that experience. You also deserve to be reminded that you are deserving of love for being you.
T-Time to Re-engage With Others
Now that you are feeling better and supported, use that newfound well-being to connect to the people you love, and try to be compassionate to them. There is a strong chance that they are experiencing the same woes that you are. Even if they are not, you deserve to share your love with the people you love most. Their response to your efforts are a lot less important than you continuing to live in the world in a way that provides you a lifetime of profound compassion and acceptance.
365 Days of Kindness. Self-Compassion. Day 101. In The Books.