Popular media portrays the holidays as a time of joy, happiness and peace with plenty of money to buy your loved ones tons of gifts and then shower them with unconditional love. I don’t know much about this kind of holiday but I do know a thing or two about the disconnect between the images of popular media and reality.
Many people, and you may be one or know someone, are estranged from their family . They feel alone. They may be depressed. They could have anger toward themselves or others. It could be any number of reasons why they are estranged. Their reactions are complicated. Sure the history matters from what happened yesterday, last year or a decade ago. What matters more is what do you want for today and for tomorrow or five years from now? What do you want to create to honor yourself? You can have sorrow, grief, anger, hurt and regret and still make choices to be kind, compassionate and loving. Why bother? Because it feels better and it is in your best interest.
Being in a spirit of peace does not mean you have to white knuckle it through the holidays pretending your are happy. Peace is a gift you give to yourself by being willing to accept who you are, what you feel and your past with all its pain. Peace is owning your life. Full blown ownership engages your courage to be authentic. I find that when I accept the sorrow of loss and gently look into the eyes of despair the anguish of being alone is eased by being vulnerable with the people who are in my life that do care. This is what has worked for me. I don’t claim to have all the answers but I do know the more I accept my own feelings about the reality of my life the less misery I experience by struggling and fighting against myself.
This may sound counter intuitive. In the natural external world (outside the mind and body) we are hard wired to pull away from things that cause us pain or can cause us harm. We have the ability to run away from a burning house to save our hide. Out survival instinct is awesome! We don’t even have to think about escape if we are in serious danger. It is automatic. If we experience a physical discomfort, such as splinter we can solve the problem by removing the splinter. What I have learned is the same skills we use to run away from a burning house or to remove a splinter do not permanently work for internal pain. The same set of skills, if used to solve problems in the internal world, produce a struggle that exacerbates pain. We cannot pluck out, nor run away from our painful feelings, memories or experiences we have inside. Our internal world is with us whether we like it or not. Some tactics work for a short period of time, however, in the long run, I still have painful uncomfortable internal experiences. I’ll bet you do too.
Rather than disowning, discarding and rejecting your own feelings try accepting them. Hold your feelings lightly within the sphere of kind-heartedness. Use your mind’s ability to create a mental hug and wrap your arms around your suffering. Be magnanimous with yourself? This is a benevolent time of year. Start with YOU! It may mean you have the energy to be a little happier during the holidays by struggling less with fighing with your own expereince.
Meanwhile – I am sending you hugs.
(C) Copyright 2014 Brenda Bomgardner, MA, LPC, NCC, BCC
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