In the US, this past weekend was a long holiday surrounding the tradition of Thanksgiving. While I tend to put my energy into having a spirit of gratitude and appreciation every day of the year, I always enjoy the time off from work and the opportunity to connect with loved ones over some yummy food.
I will confess however, that like a lot of individuals, I battle Holiday Depression. I’m not going to go into a discussion on the phenomenon…those of you who deal with it already know plenty about it, and those who are interested can Google further.
I’m also not going to bore you with the why’s of my own struggle, except to say that in my case it is event driven. Specifically loss driven. Grief driven. Every year it gets a bit better, but when you lose people, they leave holes in your life that can never be filled. You just have to learn to work around them. Around the holidays, my holes loom large.
But I don’t want to focus on all that.
What I want to do is share with you something that I learned this weekend as I felt the old familiar shadow of what I refer to as “my dark place” moving slowly over me, like an eclipse that temporarily blocks out the light that is my core self.
I find when I’m feeling down that people generally don’t like it very much. They’re not accustomed to a quiet, droopy, sad me; it makes them uncomfortable. They don’t know what to do or say, so quite often they either avoid me altogether or try to “cheer me up” by inadvertently completely invalidating my feelings.
This I am used to and will often call them on. It seems I can easily defend my feelings when an exterior force tries to tell me not to have them.
What I didn’t realize though, is that I have been guilty of some pretty invalidating self talk too.
“I shouldn’t feel this way…”, “Why do I feel so down when I have so much good in my life?”, “I’m supposed to be strong, so why can’t I get over this feeling?”
Stuff like that.
While I won’t let other people beat me up, I seem to have no trouble beating myself up for operating at anything less than optimal.
There is an old saying (and I would give credit if I knew where it originated) that what you resist persists. What you focus your mind and energy on is what remains circling around you like an orbit. It’s the Law of Attraction baby…you can’t fight it.
So at some point on the day before Thanksgiving, when I felt the dark shadow of depression crossing over my sun, I just decided to quit berating myself for my feelings and accept that this was me right now, and if I honestly believe in myself and love myself, that has to mean unconditionally.
That has to mean embracing who I am even when I’m not being strong, vivacious and fabulous.
And so I did. I went with it. I allowed my feelings to just be, without judging them. Without judging myself for having them.
I was down in the doldrums for a day. Big deal. Every time I started the negative self talk about not getting anything done or refusing to even shower, I caught myself and countered with a soothing, accepting inner dialog.
“Hey, it’s okay. Just feel it and know this too shall pass. Because I love you no matter how you’re feeling.”
Over and over throughout the day I spoke to myself the way I would want someone I love to speak to me. I would want them to just wrap their arms around me and say, “Whatever is going on with you right now, know I’m here for you no matter what, know I love you and know I totally think you’re cute when you don’t shower. Everything is going to be okay.”
Well, I love me…so I said those things to myself.
Making the conscious decision to love myself no matter what…even in the dark moments…was incredibly liberating. Embracing what I had formerly considered a flaw in myself and just allowing myself to be freed up a lot of mental space to allow myself to heal.
It’s not just about living in the now for good moments…it’s about being present for and accepting what is in all of them.
Love is not an emotion…it is a decision. We all make the choice to love and be loving toward the people in our lives every single day. Start applying some of that to yourself.
So let go of who you think you should be, and decide to love who you are. Who you are in this very moment. Even if it makes you uncomfortable. ESPECIALLY if it does.
Because I promise you…it is precisely who you are supposed to be right now.