SoulCare® Stories

Navigating pain through the holidays

My whole life, I’ve been in the people business–working with other humans as we process our pain out loud. And, in my experience, there is no greater time of universal sorrow than during the holidays.

I’ve witnessed time and again that holiday life sometimes sucks and no amount of bumper sticker wisdom, idyllic sentiment, or pithy advice will heal a heart that’s hurting. Even the best intentions to cheer us up can seem unkind or, at least, ill-timed.

Phrases like, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” and “‘tis the season to be jolly” can sting and often offend us when we’re in the throes of anxiety and/or depression that settles in with the season.

While I believe in hope, I don’t believe in quick fixes. While I believe in inspiration, I don’t believe in kitsch. While I believe in healing and thriving, I know that band-aids fall off easily and you don’t just jump into a marathon after your legs have been broken.

This year, I have friends and family facing the holidays with lost jobs, financial stress, sick kids, bad memories, and spouses who have died. Sometimes, the cold weather is enough to make us sad. Or, a feeling that we’ve somehow lost our way can derail us.

Do I wish us all happy holidays? You bet I do. And, I know sometimes we have to work for the happy and fight the demons. And fight as we may, we sometimes feel defeated.

This season . . . don’t feel bad about not feeling good. Embrace it and acknowledge it. Don’t feel the need to apologize for how you feel. Humans have feelings. Feelings are by definition things to be felt. Call your feelings out and let those who are your trusted people feel them with you. Without trying to fix you. If someone claims to have the magic elixir, thank them and don’t take it personally. You don’t have to embrace their pixie dust. You are not required to manufacture joy.

This season . . . make time for you. You are worth time. You are worth attention. It is a season for giving so don’t forget yourself. What gives you life? What inspires you? What helps you rest? Embrace those gifts. Take care of your soul.

This season . . . don’t put so much on your plate that you get overwhelmed in a whole new way. Distractions are fine, but booking every hour of your calendar will not help you forget the pain. Exhaustion is a perfect onramp to despair.

This season . . . remember that you have choices and options. You don’t have to participate in things you don’t want to be part of. Pay attention to what your thoughts and feelings are telling you. If you feel stuck and feel you have to participate because it will cause more pain if you don’t, that’s understandable. Let those closest to you know your discomfort and ask them to acknowledge your pain and be sensitive to your needs.

This season . . . consider tapping into your creativity. You are a creative soul. You offer something to the world. Sometimes, your special you-ness is exactly what the world needs and may be the thing you need to lift your soul. If your shade of creativity is making things with your hands, do it. If your brand of creativity is serving others and creating moments, do it.

This season . . . consider doing that thing you always wanted to do. Start that book. Tell those stories. Call that person. Go on that date. Visit that restaurant. Start that Etsy store. Whatever it is, big or small, give yourself permission to dream.

This season . . . talk to your Forte Guide. If not them, talk to someone. Someone you trust. Someone who listens. Just talk and don’t stay a stranger to the world. The world needs you in it.

I’m wishing you a healthy season. Here at Forte we talk about “acknowledging our past experiences, bringing awareness to our present state, and being intentional about who we are becoming.” Whatever past or present experience is shaping your holidays, my hope is that you’ll be able to care for your soul and be surprised by the joy you may find in the middle of the struggle.