Everywhere we go we are bombarded with advertising and store merchandising in celebration of the holidays. Images of being surrounded warmly by friends and family abound. While these images paint a beautiful picture of joy and the holiday spirit, the reality is that some people feel happy, while others do not. Many people feel loneliness and grief for their losses during the holiday season. Although there is no media blitz shouting it to the world, it is actually quite common to feel sadness this time of year. And denying that you truly feel this way may actually increase your feelings of sadness or inadequacy. For some, trying to avoid these feelings causes depression, anxiety, stress or illness. Others, in response to the massive marketing campaigns with jingling bells and falling snow, try to avoid feelings of loneliness by overcompensating with abundant or expensive gifts.
What is a healthy way to deal with the painful feelings that may come up during the holidays? First, notice and acknowledge what it is you are really feeling. Give it a name. Perhaps it is loneliness, grief, or sorrow. Like all of our feelings, know that it is okay to feel this way. Next, find a way to express or release these feelings. You can try writing, crying, telling an empathetic listener or simply experiencing the feelings. Then move on to the next step: connecting with others.
Connecting with others means sharing some of your own self with them. This may mean sharing your time, your talents, or your true self. At the same time, be open to others when they share themselves with you.
You can share your time by inviting someone you like to your place or out to do something you’ll both enjoy. Consider branching out. It can be fun and rewarding to invite someone you would like to get to know better, but haven’t had the chance to yet, or someone you already spend time with and would like to get to know on a deeper level.
Sharing your talents is another way of connecting with others. In order to do this, take inventory of what your skills, talents and special interests are. Find related ways your skills could help enrich the lives of others. Volunteering is a great way to reach out to people.
Another way to connect with people is to share your true self. What do you really think? How do you really feel? If your public persona and your true self are one and the same, wonderful. This means others are getting to know the real you. If your public persona and true self are different, you may be unintentionally keeping people from getting to know you. Take a moment to consider who you really are underneath this public persona. Allow some of your true self to shine through with a person you feel safe with and would like to connect to. You can do this the next time you’re with someone you trust by telling that person something about your true self.
Connecting with others also includes making an effort to see their true selves. Are there ways you may be accidently interfering with them telling you what they really think and feel? Perhaps you like to talk a lot and take up most of the conversation. Maybe you make very adamant statements or criticisms when talking with others. Consider the effect you may be having on others’ freedom to express their true selves to you. Sometimes, deepening your connection with someone means quieting yourself so you can learn more about him/her.
Loneliness during the holidays is more common than most of us know. It’s important to remember that there are ways to express and release these feelings while we create and deepen our connections with others. May you have a happy holiday season in which you share some of yourself and find connections with others in the process.
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