As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. of A., I’d like to take a moment to give a shout out to all of those people who are sick and tired of hearing how they ought to be grateful.
Holidays can be really hard for a lot of people - especially those who suffer from depression, grief, anxiety, PTSD, or those who have survived an incredibly difficult upbringing with emotionally abusive caretakers or peers. This time of year can bring up all sorts of painful memories, stress over finances, and cause a person experiencing loneliness to feel like they have a giant magnifying glass over them that exposes everything that’s missing from their lives.
If any of this sounds familiar, I’m talking to you.
I get it - holidays can really suck for some of us humans. And yes, it can be helpful to think about all of the things in your life that you should feel thankful for, but sometimes it’s hard to get past those painful memories…and sometimes it can make a person feel worse when they hear that they ought to be feeling differently than are currently feeling.
This may sound controversial (coming from a therapist), but it’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel lonely, lost, empty, afraid, or angry. Do most people want to feel those things? No, I’m sure that we don’t. I’m sure that most people would rather feel all of the happy feelings over the sad ones. We don’t always get a choice in how we’re feeling - just like we don’t always get a choice in what happens to us.
What matters most is what you do with those feelings. This is where you do have a choice.
Understanding where the sad stuff is coming from can be helpful in creating some self-compassion. Please try to be gentle with yourself - as you would be with someone you love unconditionally. Try not to take all of the responsibility over things that have happened to you in the past. If you’re someone who struggles over holidays because of family issues, know that your biological family may not be your logical family and get out there and find your tribe as soon as you can.
If you are feeling depressed, lonely, or if you are grieving - you don’t have to do this alone. Please reach out to someone who will listen, who will offer you validation and connection, someone who will offer you full acceptance. Whenever possible, make the choice to spend time around those who build you up rather than tear you down. If that is not an option for this holiday season, consider the holidays in the future when you may have that option available and know that there are more people out there in the world than those you currently have access to. These hopeful and inspiring creatures may come in many forms - teacher, coworker, neighbor, online support group, or therapist. If you have not had luck in one of those areas, please keep trying because not every person can offer the support you need.
So go ahead and feel ungrateful for the sad or bad things that have happened or that you are currently dealing with in this moment, but please don’t get lost there.
If you can accept that pain and suffering are part of the human condition, there’s also a bright side of experiencing joy that is waiting for you. It's easy to believe that everything is awful when you're in despair, but the truth is that there is always hope for a better tomorrow.
Click here for my resource page if you are experiencing a crisis.