When Holiday Cheer Isn't So Cheery

We are approaching the holiday season here in North America as well as the wintery months and cold weather here on the East Coast. While this can be a joyful time full of festivities, food, friends, fun, and family for many, the messages that are coming through our culture right now can be in direct conflict to what many of us are feeling. We are bombarded with transition during this time. We quickly transition from one holiday to the next, from cold weather to colder, from landscapes changing and financial needs shifting. 

We are concerned with our body weights fluctuating, our desires to eat delicious and decadent foods in direct contrast with our worries about staying thin, not getting fat, or following the latest trend in healthy eating. We may be experiencing less sunlight, and greater stress and anxiety about how to manage it all. 

If we stop and pause, we may start to realize that the stress is an underlying buzz that is always right beneath the surface. That each item checked off of our to do list doesn't bring us the peace and calm that we think it's going to and that excitement and activity doesn't truly lead us to feeling fulfilled. 

We may ebb and flow to be feeling excited about the holidays and we also may still be longing. Longing for a partner to share this time with, irritation with how many more winter months there are to go, or fear about what is going to happen once January hits and there is a long stretch of time until Spring comes. 

If we just listen to the messages and expectations from society about this being a joyful and happy time, we may find that we come up short and actually start to feel increasingly bad about ourselves because we feel that we need to be feeling or acting a certain way this season. Luckily, we don't have to succumb to the critical voice disguised as encouragement and we don't have to sacrifice our joy either. We can hold all of these experiences at the same time, without dismissing ANYTHING.

How do we do this?

It starts with allowing all the feelings, experiences, and expectations within ourselves to just be as they are. Without judgment, without trying to change them. The incessant need of the critical voice to be changing things is what actually keeps us stuck in a passing emotion that is normal. It is normal to feel stress in transitions, especially if you are a sensitive or anxious person. It is normal to feel sad as weather changes, the sun bows its head, or if you are feeling lonely because certain things that you want to happen in your life are not happening. What keeps us stuck, is when we don't normalize these feelings and we try to flutter along to the next thing, person, or place. 

This doesn't mean that we do the same thing to the critical voice that it is doing to these other feelings within ourselves. The critical voice deserves compassion as well. Sometimes we don't understand why it's there or where it's coming from..and that is okay. Just knowing that the critical voice is a part of us, not our true self, and understanding that it has a good intention is the first step in allowing healing to come in. 

If you are having conflicting emotions this holiday season, try writing out what each of them are on a piece of paper. Imagine they are surrounding a table and each have an equal say. If one voice is the loudest, let is speak. See if each of these voices can speak one at time. See if you can allow the compassionate voice within you to be the most present with them. 

Share in the comments below how you are feeling this holiday season. And share this article with a friend if you feel they are in the need to know that they aren't alone and that life isn't always a season to be jolly..though when the season is jolly...enjoy it!