Processing Old Holiday Hurts

Here we are - on the sled ride into the holiday season! What's your ride like? Are you wanting to curl up alone under a blanket to avoid everything from holiday shopping to dinner at your family's house? Or are you smiling and cheering when you hear holiday carols and see the lights and decor of the season? It can a beautiful time to connect with family and friends, to reflect, to look toward a new year. And for some, this time of year triggers pain and loss from seasons or situations in the past. What can you do? 

Take some time to process old holiday hurts. Maybe you experienced a loss around the holidays, perhaps there are some tough childhood memories, or maybe nothing ever lives up to the joy of your childhood holidays? Whatever your circumstances, give yourself space to think about it and write about your past. Consider writing with paper and pen rather than typing on a device. You might not want to keep this writing. Jot down the circumstances with tough emotions tied to them, how it made you feel at the time, and how you feel now reflecting on it. Remember, when journaling, you're not trying to write a term paper or a poetic masterpiece, you're writing your raw, honest truth, for only your eyes. When you've finished with this writing, you might consider a ceremony to destroy it, symbolism to free yourself from the pain. I've burned pages before (be safe: burn in a fire-safe pot with an extinguisher nearby, or in an outdoor or indoor fireplace), or there can be some satisfaction around tearing a piece of paper to shreds, as well. You might choose to keep the writing as well, do what feels right for you in the moment.

Next, write only the positive elements of your present moment. Gratitude for friends, family, time alone, good food, a roof over your head, employment, whatever you can truly appreciate about your life. Reflect on this list daily through the holiday season and see what you can add to it. We create our own reality with the thoughts that most frequently enter the doors of our minds. So plant seeds of gratitude and watch them grow throughout the coming weeks.