Avoiding Holiday Meltdowns

Ho, Ho, No?

 “What is Christmas? It is the tenderness of the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future." -Agnes M. Pahro

“What is Christmas? It is the tenderness of the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future." -Agnes M. Pahro

Holidays can bring out the best - or worst in us. Amid commercials depicting cheery families dressed in matching pajamas, there is often a quiet melancholy that drifts into our psyches. We mix fantasy, memories, guilt and mild skepticism into a seasonal beverage that we consume in large quantities.

A lot of attention focuses on public gatherings and memories with family. It occurs in December more than any other time of year. For those of us who tend to avoid groups and relatives, this time of year raises more anxiety than excitement. And for those of us who hover over our devices, this time of year forces us to see the holidays portrayed by filtered social media posts.

Can Tony avoid a holiday meltdown?

Tony knows he can’t buy holiday spirit. Yet he can’t figure out how this spirit is supposed to show up each year and magically make him a better person. He feels agitated by the pressure to act with great excitement. Deep down, Tony realizes this season gives him access to a vulnerable and closed part of himself. He doesn’t want to relive the sad, old times nor enter into another holiday meltdown.

It takes courage for Tony to speak up about his holiday struggles. When he spends time with his coach he learns of three challenges influencing his enjoyment of the holidays:

Loneliness

For those of us without healthy familial relationships or close bonds, we feel we're missing out on something special. We isolate to preserve our hearts. We see ourselves as different. Where do we belong?

With his coach, Tony shares feelings of abandoning himself and others during the holidays. His resistance to interact and join in the holiday spirit is a futile attempt to avoid heartache.

Tony discovers there are two sides to loneliness: being alone and being lonely. Being alone is comfortable, energizing and a welcome respite from distractions and noise. Being lonely means Tony finds himself desperate, unworthy of connection and detached from the world. His coach encourages Tony to pay attention to how much time he spends feeling alone versus feeling lonely.

Once Tony feels more at ease with being alone, he takes the next step of seeking the company of others. This year he makes the choice to feel the love more than the misery.

He takes small emotional risks like reaching out to family and friends in advance of the holidays. He asks what they are doing for the holidays to spark conversation and an opportunity to schedule some fun time together. Tony's coach is delighted by his courage and shares research confirming how loneliness blocks the capacity to see how much we are cared for, we matter, and our presence is valued by others.

Loss

We all share a loss of people and animals. Unfortunately, we often hang onto the loss of our beloveds more than remembering the gift of how they touched us. We gravitate towards our broken parts instead of connecting to how these wonderful people joined us to our wholeness.

Tony’s mom was his earth angel. She listened and cared. Her guidance and tender words helped Tony through tough times. Her favorite time was the December holidays when she loved to decorate and drive around the neighborhood with Tony to look at the lights. After she died from a sudden heart attack, Tony had to build a different life.

Tony's coach asked him to define a new holiday practice. He was free to incorporate Mom into his celebration by remembering the love between them and being grateful for her presence in his life. Tony appreciated his Coach's support as he redefined what it means to be home for the holidays. Home is in his heart and he intends to do a better job taking care of this special place.

Lacking

We forget that ego - in its perversity - actually celebrates lack, especially around the holidays. Lack of resources and the "energy to shop, mingle and jingle all the way" pump the ego to shout louder: "Poor ME!" What is lacking is vision to see the potential of the season to lift us to higher ground. Amnesia may infiltrate our thought system, obscuring the fact that a worthwhile life is a steady practice of attention to Peace, Love and Joy.

When we’re this tired and disconnected we live on the planet called “not enough.” As we wander aimlessly on this barren land, we lose our pulse and ability to be okay in the moment.

Coach and Tony put together a list of self-care activities that are scheduled on the calendar. Unless Tony has a good reason to forego the activity, he must commit to completing them with an open mind and excited heart. His activities include:

  1. Setting a holiday intention and saying it every day

  2. Checking social media only once a week - NOT MORE than 15 minutes

  3. Imaging the holiday spirit infusing him with positive energy

  4. Decorating and tapping into his creativity

  5. Walking outside and getting in touch with nature

  6. Sharing a favorite holiday memory

From Meltdown to Bright Light

Holiday meltdowns have the potential to carry its dreadful energy way past the holidays. Sometimes we are so distracted by holiday commotions that we lose touch with possible meltdown activity. If you notice a dip in your holiday spirit, take extra loving measures such as moving the body, relaxing the mind and planting light into the heart.

If sadness, frustration and loneliness are taking a bigger role in your holiday season, ask for help.