It’s mid-December and there’s a part of me that would be relieved if I could fast forward time to January. This part of me wants to escape the feelings of overwhelm and fear of an inevitable let down that will come at some point in the next couple of weeks. There’s another part of me that loves the magic of this time of year: music, decorations, gifts, and Santa Claus. And there’s another part of me that’s amazed and reverent as it reflects on the Jesus story.
Every holiday season I can count on these three parts to show up at different times and to different degrees. Each one has its distinctive emotions ranging from sad and anxious to excited and joyful. Each one wants something different. One wants to escape from the scene because it’s downright painful. One wants to go to parties and concerts. One wants to attend Midnight Mass.
Which part comes most alive in you this time of year?
How Do You Support Yourself?
These parts are aspects of your psyche. They are our different inner kids. One kid is vulnerable and holds the pain of expectation followed by disappointment that can come with the season. The other is the magical one that has a vivid imagination. The third kid is the intuitive and spiritual one that sees no separation between him and the Divine.
If you are more aware of the vulnerable or wounded part this time of year, you may have to take special care of yourself (or rather that young part that lives inside of you) in order to get off the holiday emotional roller coaster and have fun. Your ability to support the vulnerable parts of your personality is vital to your healing, maturity and fulfillment.
Effective Strategies Instead of Escapes
It’s temping, maybe natural, to try to escape pain. I notice my addictions to alcohol, sugar, and over-committing my social schedule kick in heavily this time of year. These are strategies to avoid pain and numb out and are good for coping, but they are not the solution.
Consider these strategies to feel lighter and satisfied this holiday season:
- Meet your need for connection but set boundaries on how much you’ll do. Simplify gift giving and holiday card distribution. Create one or two meaningful opportunities in December to connect with small groups of friends and family that go beyond cocktail party talk. Turn down or resist other get-togethers in this busy time and schedule time with friends in January.
- Give yourself permission to break with tradition in order to stop being drawn into painful patterns. At this time of the year, it is easy to raise your expectations of outcomes only to be disappointed once again. There have been many years that I have not spent Christmas with my birth family. I didn’t do this because I have a dysfunctional or mean family. I changed my pattern so I could heal and more joyfully connect with my immediate family.
- Get clear about what this time of year means to you. I sometimes become so wrapped up in the emotion and commercial element of the holidays I forget what this time really means to me. For me, Christmas is a time to celebrate that I am an incarnated soul. The message of the Christ is that God lives within. Regardless of your faith tradition, if you believe you have a soul or spirit, what a great time of the year to reflect on and celebrate that.
- Give the ultimate gift—your time and presence. Our family selects a family that has had a particularly tough year and plays Secret Santa—dropping simple and fun presents at the doorstep on each of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Rediscovering the Magic
These strategies work because they meet your core needs of connection (self-worth, meaning and service) that are the ingredients for fulfillment.
When you tend to your inner life, especially those hurt and vulnerable places, a magical part inside you will emerge. Don’t forget to feed the magical child in you. You can do this by going to holiday concerts or shows or a light display at your botanic gardens.
I’d love to hear your strategies for staying grounded and happy during the holidays.
Thank you for being part of my life and for investing in your growth and consciousness. May you have peace.