A lot of times, the holidays bring up emotions in us that can be nostaglic and warming, and these offer us a deeper joy as we step into the "spirit" of the season. But sometimes, this season swirls fond memories and joyful festivities together with loaded emotions that stem from old conflicts, family dynamics, or other events that happened years or weeks ago that have caused discord, or possibly a more significant trauma. Often, the holidays can bring a mixture of emotions up in us that frankly, we'd rather not deal with. (Hence the spiked eggnog, drinking in the name of being festive, etc.) Some of us feel loneliness over being away from loved ones, or even recent loss...for others it stirs up discord or traumatic events we'd rather forget. Regardless of these factors, we all may deepen our joy of the season. It may require from us a bit more effort that most others don't see, but we can get there, especially if we're willing to look inward and acknowledge what we're feeling.
In a recent talk with a colleague, they shared with me that one of the reasons they have not opted to try Reiki was because they were not ready to bring some of their unresolved emotions to the surface. Emotions can be painful, and by design, to survive, humans behave in ways to avoid pain. It's a natural part of our survival instinct wiring. We all have been there...that state of unreadiness, fear/avoidance of what we are convinced will be painful. We know we have to get to it eventually as an integral part of our healing and growth, but no other person can tell us when that should be. The question that leads us into a state of readiness and openness for healing is: do I want to stop carrying the emotional weight, and allow myself to feel free? When the answer is Yes, we can begin to love ourselves more fully. We can BE ourselves more completely, regardless of the scars we may have received in our past. And we can finally feel free of that weight.
If the holidays bring such emotions front and center for you, know that without lovingly attending to these feelings beforehand, we only feel worse. Suppressing our emotions, while temporarily may help us function through our day-to-day, will usually catch up with us. So, with an intention of offering those of us struggling to find ways to deal with emotions, and to have a more pleasant holiday season, I thought I'd share a great article I came across recently that shared a simple acronym to use for self-reflection that Dr. Dan Siegel offers to help us create our own safe space in which to process what we may be feeling:
We can borrow from this simple system for health self-reflection to also approach any stressful holiday dynamics we may face this year with the same attitude of curiosity, openness, acceptance and love. Place this metaphorical form of C.O.A.L. in the stockings of others. And, the most important place to start is with our own. Begin a simple check in of your own feelings...before they get too intense...from a place of curiosity - seeking to understand rather than judge or label. This is the same starting point for the way we assess our own worth. If we start our journeys (whether reflecting inward or doing a road trip) with this foundation, it is likely that we'll be better equipped to get into the true holiday spirit and enjoy our time. That is my hope for all of you this holiday season. Wherever you may be in your healing journey, in your life path, or your holiday, may it be enjoyed from a place of curiosity, openness, acceptance and love.