In our last article,Part 1 of Dealing With Holiday Blues, you read about how the unreality of holiday expectations cause sadness and depressed emotional states. And, as I promised, in this segment, there is an exercise to help you overcome the negative emotions that often come into play at this time of year.
Demolish the Untrue Beliefs That Cause You Emotional Pain
In Part One of this article, you read that our persistent beliefs in unreality (and here we are speaking of the Christmas myth but any and all unreality applies) cause us to suffer. When we argue with reality, we will suffer every single time because Life does not “play by the rules” of the human ego. Life is what it is. And while things do change and will change, the things we want (like having a love partner to share Christmas with) don’t necessarily come when we want or in the way we want..The urgent needs that arise during the holidays give rise to much emotional angst…and seasonal sadness.
Life is a roller coaster ride of emotions. You’ve felt so many emotions in the course of your life, not just during this time of year. Looking back, you may wonder how you made it through everything. But you did.
When we are having an emotional experience we can easily lose perspective of the situation, as well as lose sight of the bigger picture of life itself. Very strong feelings distort how we perceive and what we are able to understand in the moment. This can seriously muddle our thinking and make things worse… putting us too deep in the forest to see the trees, as they say.
When we get muddled it’s time to step away from what we feel, through the process of meditation…or just getting very still…and let go of the feeling so we can find our core self. The core self is the eternal spiritual being that we are, under the emotions, behind the circumstance, and before the ego personality of this life was formed.
Emotion begins with a perception of what reality is (not often what it really is), followed by a thought that incites a feeling inside you. For example, as a kid you may have had the perception that someone was making fun of you as you saw them smile when you tripped on a shoestring. An incorrect perception (the belief you were being mocked) was followed by an incorrect thought, “she’s making fun of me!” which could have given rise to an emotion of feeling embarrassed or put down. Later in life, then, the root experience could lead you to become overly self-conscious and sensitive. —All this for nothing, since the reality at the time of the occurrence was that the person was smiling because of your childhood charm. (You were terribly cute all the time!)
Perceptions vs. Reality
The trouble with emotions is that they can “talk” us into believing our own story. We believe that what we perceive is a fact and thus, we can believe that feelings of anger, sadness, fear, etc. are not only justified, we can believe them to be based in an objective reality. And as I have said, very often, they are not.
We often let emotions control our outlook on life, our thoughts, our behavior and our choices. Thus, they have an enormous effect on the way we live our lives and during the holidays, there is a particularly insidious influence at work. From childhood, we were taught that Santa rewards good little boys and girls with what they want for Christmas. This carries over into the subconscious even into adulthood, when our childish insistence on having what we want for “that very special day” rolls out of us in the form of increased depression when our unrealistic desires go unfulfilled.
The “Family Tree of Emotions” exercise is designed to help you when you are struggling to figure out why you feel the way you do. The diagram shown here has blank boxes that spiral inward. You can sketch your own on a separate piece of paper.
Suppose you are struggling with a feeling of sadness. Write “sad” in the first box at the beginning of the spiral.
Then, ask why do you think you are sad? If your answer is something like, “I’m depressed because John won’t spend Christmas with me”, then write that down in the next box. If your deeper belief is “…it means he doesn’t care”, then write that perception in the next blank box.
“Nobody really cares about me”…”My brother said I was a pain in the butt” …“I always come last” and so on, progressively working your way to the core beliefs that are hidden behind the screen of the emotion you are dealing with.
When you discover the core belief that is generating negative emotions, you can then work with the deceptions associated with the belief. Ask, what if the thing you believe isn’t true? For instance, if you believe you always come last, hold that up to the light. Count the times you didn’t come last. And if you’ve come last too often, then what self-respect are you lacking to allow others to disrespect you? What do you need to change about yourself? What can you do to improve your state of mind and happiness? For example, do you need to talk to a counselor? Do you need to get out of an unfulfilling relationship? The list of possibilities goes on, but you are in charge of your own life. Decide to make it better by changing what needs to be changed and doing what will bring you true happiness inside of yourself. You are Divine Consciousness incarnated into a physical form. You deserve to have a meaningful life; in fact, it’s your responsibility to make that happen.
Be the Gift You Want to Receive
When you suffer emotionally, chances are good that there is a generous amount of self-deception going on. You need to deprogram yourself from unreality.
And as far as Christmas is concerned, here’s the truth, a simple reality, a plain fact: This is just another series of days, and December 25th is just another day. That’s all it is. That’s all it ever was.
So…you may spend that one day in a way you don’t want; either alone, or stressed, or whatever: it doesn’t make you a failure, a misfit, a good little girl forgotten by Santa. Every day of your life is precious. Thank God there are more days to live and have good things come to you!!
The ideals we hold up as Christmas hopes and dreams are those things we would do well to practice in our daily lives. To attribute a time of good deeds to “Christmas Spirit”, like feeding the poor and helping the sick on a few days of the year—when viewed through the clear lens of reality—is truly insane. Let us minister to those in need the year round, let us, through positive change and a stronger sight into the reality of our own lives (including what we wish to make it) make a daily commitment to know joy and share it. This is how we will bring peace on earth and good will to men, this is how we will become joyful beings with magical lives! This is how the human race will be “redeemed”—not by a mystical Personage born thousands of years ago across many religious traditions, but by every person, here and now, who redeems themselves by coming to understand the beautiful, truly mystical truth of their lives.
Life, the Reality of Existence, has a gift for you and it is Truth; so here it is: no matter what you think, you are never defective. You are not an abandoned soul or a hopeless victim filled with want. You are never unlovable, even if love is not returned in the way you want or when you act badly. You are not alone even when you think you are. You have a marvelous purpose even when you think you don’t. And know that the trials of this day will always pass. As sure as you live and breathe, life loves you beyond measure, for it made you.
If you are angry and experiencing self-loathing this holiday season, choose to stop punishing yourself. There is no gain and there is no reason. Your emotions are not clear and you are not seeing reality clearly. There is a great span of opportunity ahead, so focus on what is positive, no matter how hard it is to do so. If you are seriously depressed, get immediate professional help. Know you are experiencing a type of temporary insanity and for that, intervention is required. You cannot punish life for hurting you: don’t even try. Life hurts. Get through it and move beyond it. You have the ability to do so and if you’re hurting, get some help and keep on going.
For the rest who have disappointments and pitfalls and lonely moments, be kind to yourself and do some good for others. Count every single blessing in your life. Every one. All those thousands of things that you take utterly for granted. If you have eyesight, be very glad. If you have warmth, be thankful. If you have fresh water, remember all those across the planet who don’t… and be grateful.
So don’t let Unreality pull you down. It is to sacrifice for nothing. It is to waste yourself for a fairy tale. Be strong. Live tall. Life is good, even when it’s hard. Your Divine Soul wants you here, the world needs you, and you have all 365 days to come to understand just how special you really are.
So, this Christmas make that powerful decision to “Have a Meaningful Life and A Joyful New Year.” The gift of life you were given is overflowing with hidden potential. May you rise upward and shine through the darkness as the brightest of Heavenly Stars…beam on, beam on…in all the days and nights to come.