Written By Charlotte DiBartolomeo, CEO of Red Kite Project
One of the more difficult things to deal with in this life is when the culture you live in is celebrating a holiday at a time when your own life is in crisis, or you’re experiencing loss. That loss can be death of a loved one, a divorce, an illness, an addiction, loss of a job, loss of a home, or even loss of a dream. Our disappointments and grief seem to be highlighted by the grand expectations holidays are sure to bring. How does one cope in the midst of this collective celebration of manufactured joy? To tell you the truth, sometimes ones coping skills just don’t cut it during a holiday. Those of us confronting loss find ourselves with a pit in the stomach, and an unquenchable anger for what should have been, or might have been but otherwise fell short.
This is the moment in the blog when I could remind us all to count our blessings whatever they are, practice gratefulness for the everyday miracles, and recognize that no matter how bad we may have it, things could always be worse. But I’m not going to say that because there’s way too much of that talk going around today. And while it’s excellent advice if you can follow it, sometimes we just don’t have the internal resources to reframe our thoughts to start feeling better about our situations. Too often, we heap added pressure on ourselves to feel good, and when we can’t pull it together, we tend to practice recriminating self-talk which is not the least bit useful for climbing out of grief and depression.
Don’t Just Reserve Compassion for Others
Instead of beating yourself up for not feeling grateful, try practicing self-compassion for the emotional space you find yourself today. If you’re feeling lousy, recognize it for what it is and what it isn’t. To be clear, it’s not a state of being that will last forever, but a path to wind your way through. During this difficult day, having compassion for yourself is lovingly accepting yourself and your feelings as part of your human make-up and a natural human response to the dissonance between the expectations the holiday engenders and the reality of your situation. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to hurt. It’s not okay to pretend these feelings don’t exist. By
acknowledging the pain you’re feeling, you will find the emotions more fluid to move through.
Self-compassion is self-love and when we practice it, the compassion we give to others becomes a more authentic and rich experience despite the personal losses we’ve accumulated in this life.