I was in an emotional tailspin earlier this week. I could tell I wasn’t in the right headspace as I kept thinking of past mistakes I’ve made, times I’ve previously hurt friends, and ways in which I had poor judgement. I was not coming out a champ. More like a chump. The negative barrage is not unfamiliar, but it happens less often than in former years. By Tuesday, I knew that I needed to clear my head so there’d be space for self-care and kindness. Luckily, I had my weekly therapy session.
I became a therapist 25 years ago because of the help I received in therapy. I learned a lot about myself, sometimes painfully conscious of how my choices perpetuated circumstances I had wanted to change. Yet, year after year life got better. So much so that I came to value mental well-being. While the descriptions of being overly sensitive in my family and social life were seen by others as detrimental traits, they are the very qualities that ensure I’m in the right field.
My self-criticism earlier this week was important because it not only told me to continue to do the emotional, psychological, and spiritual work to be less judgmental to myself and others, but it was also a reminder of the depth of condemnation I internalized.
As we carry on through this holiday season, we will find it imperfect. There will be lovely moments, as there was when I walked past the Rockefeller Christmas tree late at night. But there will be times when we’re stressed, when we feel as if we’re not enough, or when we might be disappointed with failed plans, substandard gifts, or family members acting out. If we find we’re being hard on ourselves in those moments, perhaps we can all give ourselves the gift of benevolence. Let’s give ourselves and others the benefit of the doubt. We got through a pandemic, we’re still dealing with its aftermath, and there’s a big push from retailers and social media for these holidays to be fabulous.
Let’s settle for being real rather than make believe. There may be flaws in the realness, but there will also be true joy for accepting what is.
- Get a post-it pad and write “I am Enough” on as many pages as you want to post. Put it inside your medicine cabinet, on the fridge, in your sock drawer, in your wallet. Write it on your calendar. Remind yourself throughout the day that yes, indeed, you are enough.
- Rather than trying to let things go, see if you’re able to think about letting it be. It doesn’t mean you’re not working on it, or you’re helplessly accepting something that is bothersome, it’s just that by letting things be, we don’t have to take an immediate action. We are not required to DO anything, which is a way of giving yourself a break.
- Do something for someone else that is anonymous. It’s a gift to yourself to be happy to give freely without any need or expectation for something in return.