The holiday season is here and it’s a time that may not be all that jolly for everyone. I know for myself, before I started my journey on my current path, I dreaded all holidays. It was a time that made me feel like hiding or escaping and I felt pressured to have a good time and live up to not only my expectations but those around me. I just wanted to isolate, stick my head in the sand and wait for them to be over. Even in writing how I used to feel, I can feel my anxiety rising. Thankfully, I don’t feel that way today.
Before walking this path I was constantly hiding, even in plain sight. I could isolate anywhere, in a room of ten people or a stadium of people, it didn’t matter, if I felt uncomfortable, which was most of the time, I would find a way to distance myself from those around me. I thought it kept me safe, but all it did was keep me feeling lonely. What I didn’t know back then is that my disease, that negative self-talk that ran constantly in my head, wanted me to isolate so it could have it’s way with me, because if the voices in my head were the only voices I was hearing, I was going to believe what they were saying, and I did. Going into the holiday season felt like I was running a gauntlet of high pressured uncomfortable gatherings. The only way I could get through them back then was to numb myself, with whatever I could, even if it was dessert table and a tray of cupcakes, whatever it took to get outside of myself to get by. But that only worked while I was there, in the moment, then the sadness would kick in, that bullshit committee in my head would start up and I would beat myself up for not being “normal” and able to join in and have a good time. But, is everyone really having a good time? Probably not. And that brings me to the next hurdle I had to overcome, perception. Again, my head wants to tell me that everyone loves the holidays and all of the events of the season and everyone has a great time and finds it easy to socialize and engage with those around them. Now, I know today that isn’t true, and I’m sure you’re out there shaking your head too, but back when I was specializing in isolation my head told me the latter, and I believed it. There goes that anxiety spike again. The truth is that most people get anxious at gatherings and events and everyone is doing their best to look and sound like their not, and once I allowed myself to see that and believe that, my anxiousness became acceptable to me and I began to look for those people like myself, who seemed a bit awkward, and made a commitment to talk to them. Just like outside those gatherings, it’s all about finding your tribe and support group, and when you take off the “weirdo” glasses you think you’re wearing and look through your own eyes and the truth, you see that there are others, like yourself, who may be struggling out there. That’s when things started to change. I also used a back up system. I had my support team, those group of people who understood me and my challenges, and I would let them know I was venturing out for some holiday cheer, I would be accountable, and when I felt overwhelmed I would excuse myself and call and text someone on my team, then I didn’t feel like I was walking in alone, unarmed. When I let my team know I was nervous I would get messages back checking in or encouraging me to jump in there and participate, that made a huge difference to start, to know I had support. That support and my willingness to break out of my isolation was the key to learning to connect with people and actually starting to enjoy the holiday season by being in the moment rather than trying to live up to what I thought, or someone else thought, it should be. And for those gatherings that may not be healthiest place, having that support team in your pocket not only makes attending those functions easier, but also gives you some great conversation and connecting with that support on the ride home.
The holidays come ever year, whether we like it or not, so why not like it, maybe not all of it, but find the parts you like, or a willing to be open to liking, gather your support team and don’t head out there alone. Also, find a way to give back on those days that are most challenging. I have always found when I give back I find relief in my own anxiety or depression as the act of giving gets me out of my own head and allows me to see the good through others. So, if you find that you are finding this season particularly challenging, think about what you can do to make someone else’s day brighter, even if it’s just by picking up the phone. We all have the power to change our perception of the month ahead, why not find a magic in it that makes us want to celebrate instead of isolate. Change always starts with willingness. Be willing to find something to celebrate this holiday season. SLAY on!
SLAY OF THE DAY: Do you find the holiday season difficult? Why is that? Do you tend to isolate over the holidays? How does that make you feel? Does that help with your feelings about the holidays? Does it make it worse? What can you do to isolate less? How can you find some joy and magic in the holidays? Is there any part of the holidays you do enjoy? Can you add something of yourself or something you love to the holidays? What is that? Many people have trouble getting through the holidays, you are not alone, find and hook in with your support team, stay connected with them as you navigate through the holidays season, and, look for those little things you might enjoy, even just for yourself, those little things may just blossom into a personal appreciation and holiday spirit.
S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you