Right around the time of Thanksgiving, there is a feeling that gets sparked for a great portion of our society. It is the feeling of doom with the inevitable arrival of the holidays. It doesn’t matter which of the holidays you celebrate, this feeling of doom is not related to any particular holiday but rather, is the result of being around so many people who seem to be so happy while you are not.
It would be presumptuous to list the reasons for the sense of doom and melancholy. For each, there will be unique reasons and experiences. For many people, there may not be an awareness of what sits at the heart of that feeling of malaise. So, let’s bring this experience out into the light and talk about it so it doesn’t hang inside like another emotional shadow.
If you are not feeling the holiday cheer but are surrounded with those who are, the happier the people are around you, the greater the contrast becomes and the harder it can be to move through it. Add to this mixture the decorations, the music, and all the Santa’s looking for money every time you walk out of a retail store and the feelings can increase and become almost unmanageable.
The most important step to take for your own sanity is this: don’t pretend. Don’t hide your melancholy by trying to blend in with the holiday cheer. Be willing to own your experience and to let people know that you are not one who is enjoying the season. Trying to be someone you’re not or trying to express a feeling that is not real will only serve to exacerbate your state of mind.
There are those who won’t understand and others who will try and cheer you up because they think that they have the power to do that. They mean well, but they simply do not understand. Be prepared to just look them in the eye and say: no, thank you, no, I won’t be at the party. No, I don’t do gift exchange and no, I do not send out cards. Whatever it is, don’t pretend or hide. Your hiding intensifies the experience.
Now, if you honor yourself (and this really is a very important step in managing these emotions) by not denying your experience, you can move through the feelings with greater ease. Another important thing you can do is to reach out to someone you trust – someone with whom you feel safe. Set up a weekly (or more frequent) phone call appointment to help you to get through your feelings of doom and melancholy. Yes, set yourself up for success. If these feelings are yearly or if they are sparked because of a recent loss in your life, you are not alone, although it may feel that way. Another very important thing to do is to not judge yourself for what you are feeling.
There is help for you should you want it. Look around, it exists. A good therapist or a practitioner, coach or counselor will work with you through this time. BUT more important than anything - don’t make yourself wrong for this experience. The less you judge it, the easier it will be to move through it, one step, one feeling at a time. There is nothing wrong with you because you aren’t feeling the cheer. Honor yourself and your journey first and foremost. The shortest path to healing is ACCEPT what is.