For a lot of people, the holidays are painful. Especially if you’re single, separated or divorced or grieving the loss of a loved one. It’s easy to feel as though you’re on the outside looking in when everyone else seems so happy to be caught up in socializing, spending money and eating and drinking way too much. Or you might just be thoroughly turned off by the media-inspired hype that gives people a false picture of holiday togetherness and gift giving that completely overlooks the true meaning of all the holidays celebrated this time of year.
Loneliness is a sense of being disconnected. No wonder the urge to bury oneself under the covers. But that would only reinforce the sense that there’s nothing you can do. The good news: there IS something you can do! The first step is to be willing to experiment with the idea that you have a choice in what you do during the holidays. Yes, you may have strongly reinforced beliefs about whether you're lovable or deserving and you may have had bad experiences with toxic people in the past, but that doesn’t have to determine how you act from this point on.
When you’re willing to step out of the story of who you used to be, you can begin to create the story of who you are now. Where you used to isolate yourself, you can override that habit and start giving love and kindness to others. Find a way to seek out opportunities. Volunteer, participate in community activities, ask someone to join you at a holiday event, do random acts of kindness, find a way to express gratitude or appreciation to others. Yes, by all means take good care of yourself and only spend time with people whose values are consistent with yours. What you’ll discover is this: by coming out from under the covers and giving others the gifts of love and caring, you'll be receiving those same gifts yourself. In fact, those feelings don't depend on what others do or say. They were in you all along, just waiting for the opportunity for you to express them.
And if you think you need a little help getting there, here’s another free healing audio tool to help you on your way.
Nina Lockwood, MSW, HTCP, is a healer, teacher and coach.