Image by Eugene Zhvychik on Unsplash
As the holiday season begins, we are busy with preparations, buying gifts, mailing cards and attending holiday parties. For some of us, it is the time of year to connect with others. However, it can also be a vulnerable time. As much as we want to have a festive time, struggles don’t take a break during the holidays.
We may be coping with a teenage son, who is slowly withdrawing from us, caring for our aging parents, or struggling to figure out how to please our boss who never seems to be happy with our work. Holiday stress becomes a combination of meeting holiday obligations as well as coping with the ongoing struggles.
As a Certified Daring Way Facilitator, I teach the concepts based on Brené Brown’s curriculum on vulnerability and shame resiliency. Sometimes, we don’t recognize that our response to the holiday stress is based on our own feelings of shame and vulnerability. Shame that we are not connecting to our teenage son, feeling stressed in caring for our aging parents, or not doing well at work. Shame is like a gremlin telling us that we are not good enough, because it feels like we should be able to handle it all.
In her TedTalk in 2010 and her many books, Brené Brown talks about how when we lean into our imperfection and vulnerability, we can engage from a place of worthiness, and show up with courage, connection, as well as creativity. Living wholeheartedly in this way is a daily practice. However, during the holiday season, it may be a challenge to practice wholehearted living. When you are coping with stress during the holidays, how do you let yourself show up and be seen?
Recognize the armor
The first step in living wholeheartedly during the holidays is to recognize the armor you are using to protect your feelings of shame and vulnerability. Make note on whether you use the armor to fight, please or hide from others. Being able to acknowledge the armor and recognizing when the armor comes up during those moments, leads you to be able to identify why the armor is present. This is especially useful during holiday festivities and events as you can then choose to put the armor away.
Use Permission Slips
Often, the hardest step is giving yourself permission to be how you want to be during the holidays. During the holidays, we often follow unspoken rules of engagement or we believe that we are not good enough to step outside of expectations of how to be around others. Brené Brown often talks about writing yourself a permission slip during these times, as this is a good tool to step outside the box and allow our authentic self to show. Examples of what you could write on your permission slip are:
- being kind to your feelings and the shame “gremlins”,
- being present in the moment, or
- choosing to have fun.
The Holiday season can be the time of year to practice gratitude of your loved ones who see you the way you are, your imperfections and all. You could make them a card, give them a gift, or simply say thank you. If you feel that you do not have someone in your life that does, then practice gratitude when a person performs an act of kindness for you.
As you head into the holiday season, remember that living wholeheartedly is a daily practice. Be kind to yourself as you cope with the ups and downs of the season. You may be able to do one or some of the steps in that moment. As you are navigating your relationship with your teenage son, caring for your elderly parents, or meeting your boss during the holiday season, remember that you may be imperfect AND you are still worthy of love and belonging.
If you would like to learn more about how to live wholeheartedly, here are a few ways you can contact me:
- If you are in Markham, you can contact me at Silver Spruce Naturopathic at 905-554-5599, or book for your free 15-minute telephone consultation at www.silverspruce.ca.
- If you live or work in Richmond Hill, Markham, or anywhere in York Region, you can also contact me directly at 647-868-3508 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Amreeta is a Registered Social Worker, and a Psychotherapist, who works with adults and teens in working with shame, and building self-confidence.