Many holidays are often accompanied by increased depression caused by loneliness, feeling left out or disconnected from loved ones. For years, I’ve known a deep sense of happiness during the holidays, especially as I watched my kid’s wonder at the lights, the celebrations and the giving of gifts. Well, this year, unexpectedly, I was hit with a sharp case of the blues when an invitation to a dear friend’s holiday party didn’t arrive in my mailbox.
Memories of great times with these friends in past years kept flooding my thought – and that’s where I got stuck. This is a common problem that shows up frequently in conflicts. Participants get stuck in their story and can’t move out of it until someone shows them great compassion and walks through it with them and they find a way to be gentle with themselves. Gratefully, I’ve experienced both: a partner who shared heaps of compassion with me and nudged me not to be so hard on myself, while also objectively encouraging a new way of thinking about it.
With such kindness, I realized what was happening. By simply paying attention to what is going on in this moment, even if it is grief or pain, I get un-triggered. Saying, “How fascinating that I’m grieving over this situation” brings me into the present, which is really the only place there is happiness… even if I was very happy the last time I went to the party. It doesn’t make the emotion go away, it just gives it the voice it desires. My disappointment got named and acknowledged, compassionately validated and then I had a choice whether to stay there or move on.
This year, I’m choosing to move on and get a wider glimpse of what I see as the true spirit of the holiday – a present sense of innate goodness arising. As families and friends gather in the next weeks, how will you stay present and notice all that you’re feeling? How about giving yourself the mindful gift of a well placed, “How fascinating?”