“We dare not get rid of our pain before we have learned what it has to teach us. Most of religion gives answers too quickly, dismisses pain too easily, and seeks to be distracted—to maintain some ideal order. So we must resist the instant fix and acknowledge ourselves as beginners to be open to true transformation. In the great spiritual traditions, the wounds to our ego are our teachers to be welcomed. They should be paid attention to, not litigated or even perfectly resolved.” Richard Rohr
There is a reason why the holiday season can bring out the absolute worst in us. The financial stress of spending. The social stress of time negotiation. The emotional stress of facing old and perhaps never healed wounds.
It’s no surprise that January is a peak month for psychotherapists! All that the year has buried becomes unearthed by the friction of holiday chaos.
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to wait until January to get your feet on solid ground. You can make the choice right now to intentionally live out the remainder of December. Notice, I didn’t say you will get through December unscathed. Pain is an inevitable part of life. As the Richard Rohr quote states above, let’s take this opportunity to learn from the pain.
We don’t need to be afraid of the uncomfortable feelings that may surface this season. We need to face them head on if we are to ever make peace. Putting it another way, Brene Brown, author of Rising Strong and more, says that to speak our shame is to remove its power.
So this season, I encourage you to find the time for daily self check-ins. If you can, jot down what you notice in a journal or share it with a friend. Now may be a good time to choose a trusted partner whom you can call when you start to feel stressed, sad, disappointed, angry, overwhelmed, etc. Remember, the idea is to “speak” the feelings in some way, bring them into the light. The goal is not to erase them or fix anything. Your partner’s job is simply to listen and validate your feelings. Finding such a partner is not always an easy task but you can vow to be this for each other and your commitment to this process is invaluable.
If you would like, here are some prompts to help guide your self-discovery:
1) I’m feeling something unpleasant. (Take a deep breath) I accept that what I’m feeling is valid. This feeling could be called: (sad, lonely, discouraged, etc.)
2) Where do I feel this feeling in my body? (Tightness in my chest, knot in my stomach, etc.)
3) Do I want to call and share or journal about this experience?
I think you’ll be surprised at just how powerful those three steps can be! Also, make sure to listen to my podcast Mountains are for Moving this week to hear some beautiful ideas about how to have a slow and intentional holiday. This episode goes live on Thursday, December 8th, 2016.
Wishing you peace and love this holiday,
Here are some free downloadable images to use as wallpaper for your smart phone or desktop as a reminder to slow down and stay connected to yourself and others this holiday.
Once you download this image to your phone, you can adjust the photo to look like this:
Once adjusted for your screen, it should look like this:
Help spread the spirit of slowness and share with your friends!