Aaah, Christmas—an enchanting time painted as the epitome of joy and camaraderie, a picture-perfect season filled with vibrant lights, cheerful carols, the promise of togetherness and a holly-jolly good time--Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la! It is hard to escape, really, as the commercial aspect alone, with its emphasis on gifts, decorations, and festive advertisements alludes to the belief that everyone should be happy during this time. Yet, the reality is that within these folds of anticipated merriment, a stark contrast exists for many—an undercurrent of poignant sorrow, an ache of loneliness and emptiness, and most often a longing for what once was: perhaps the presence of loved ones now absent from the familiar festive table, or the kinship of family and friends once so inseparable currently drifted apart; romantic relationships emotionally disintegrated or regrettably dissolved; or quite simply, a craving or deep yearning for the unspoiled grace and tranquility of the “good ol’ days”. For many people, whether fresh or deeply ingrained, a bittersweet nostalgia has a profound way of casting a shadow over what is meant to be the most “wonderful time of the year” .
"Christmas isn't a season. It's a feeling." - Edna Ferber
The challenge lies in reconciling these divergent worlds- the pressure to exude festive glee while carrying the weight of personal heartache. No merry walk in the park that’s for sure! Not only can this struggle to maintain a happy facade while wrestling with inner pain be emotionally exhausting, but it can also be profoundly isolating, amplifying the sense of solitude and disconnect during a season meant for love and shared joy. In guiding individuals through this struggle, I often emphasize that this subtle interplay between societal expectations and authentic feelings is embedded in life…throughout our lives. Think about it: from the earliest days of childhood, we're nudged to conform, to present a persona that aligns with societal norms. "Be good, be polite, smile even when you're sad…Be Happy!” These societal expectations often clash with our true emotions. This dance continues into adulthood. We learn to navigate the pressures to fit in and to project happiness even when our hearts feel heavy with pain. So, this struggle, this balance between the expected and the real, isn't just a seasonal thing—it's pretty much woven into the emotional fabric of our lives.
Acknowledging genuine emotions, especially in moments of grief or loss, marks the initial step towards healing. Not only is it an opportunity to redefine our relationship with ourselves and the world around us, but it is only through embracing our vulnerabilities that we uncover the depths of our resilience. Sitting through our discomfort and trudging through our struggles is the way through pain. The following self-awareness exercise is designed to help explore the intricate blend of emotions you may be experiencing during this holiday season, aiming to navigate the delicate balance between societal expectations and personal sentiments (between what we feel obliged to portray and our genuine feelings). Recognizing and embracing these feelings can significantly enhance the authenticity and fulfillment of your holiday experience.
Exercise: Unwrapping The Ghosts of Xmas Past
Consider keeping a journal dedicated to your reflections during this holiday season. Writing down your thoughts, emotions, and the insights gained from this exercise can be a powerful way to track your emotional journey. Use this space to explore your feelings, triggers, as well as your coping strategies. Journaling offers a valuable outlet for processing emotions and can serve as a helpful tool in managing your feelings.
Wishing you Peace and Love this holiday season, Lydia.
Hi, I'm Lydia- a modern-day warrior of the heart with a mission to reconcile the mystery and mastery of Love.