There are a lot of positive and uplifting posts and sentiments out there right now. And, they’re needed. Absolutely. It’s the ultimate joy of the holiday season…right? We’ve been dealing with a pandemic for what seems like a lifetime. We should have a better handle on it by now…shouldn’t we? Not so fast.
The problem arises when uplifting ourselves becomes a forced guilted gratitude (“I should be happy dammit. It’s friggin Christmas! So many people have it worse than me.” Cue head drop, bawling into a tangle of lights) or a distraction from dealing with difficult feelings (Yes, music can be an instant mood booster, but Mariah and Adam can only be played on repeat for so long).
Many of us have no idea how to handle uncomfortable feelings because we were never taught it – ever.
I repeatedly hear from friends, loved ones, and clients and feel myself that there’s a cyclical heavy-hearted feeling arising. These moments of hollow despair can be unbearable and achingly lonely. Talking, rationalizing, busying, and bullying ourselves out of these feelings are all tactics that may seem practical or strong. We may even mistake them for being resilient. But they’re not sustainable.
Slowing down during a season that is notorious for speeding us up is the first step in choosing to be on your own side while bucking the system (always a pleasure) and being able to check in to see how you’re feeling so you can then know what you need. It may not come right away. That’s okay. Hang tight. As the saying goes, “Don’t just do something. Stand there.” (Thank you, Mark Groves and Harriet Lerner for this necessary reminder.)
As you kick off your week, be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the space to move through your own heaviness with the same gentle, loving ease that you would give to a good friend or loved one. Please don’t mistake this for a touchy-feely softness of a Hallmark movie. That may completely be your style, and if it is, run with it. If you’re like me, it depends on the day. One moment it may be giving yourself a hug and the next, it’s dropping F-bombs in a light-hearted, motivating, and genuine way to make your spirits truly bright.
You know what you need. Trust it.
THAT’s where genuine compassion and empathy reside. We can only give to others what we are willing to give to ourselves. That intimate human experience allows us to hold the space for others with compassion, not pity. When we courageously choose to enter the discomfort of being human ourselves, we open our hearts for others to do the same.