Happy Holidays! Whether or not you celebrate any particular holiday this time of year, the holiday season has likely had some form of impact on your mood and how you generally move about in the world. It is essentially impossible to escape the so-called “holiday spirit” that dominates media and culture during the months of November and December. While there are many aspects of the holidays that people find uplifting, it can also be a time when negative emotions can become more difficult to process. Here, I’d like to explore this topic using two different situations an individual may find themselves in.
The first situation is feeling the holiday spirit compelling you to be in a good mood. It may feel as if happiness is an obligation rather than an organic choice you’re making. Ongoing cultural events do not erase the struggles and mental health issues that people had prior. Perhaps you do not want to dampen the mood of those around you, or maybe you have some past trauma related to this time of year. An integral part of consistently being mindful of one’s mental health is to acknowledge both aspects of the experience – that some parts of the holiday season make you happy, and other parts highlight your sadness. As difficult as it can be to initially acknowledge, you are allowed to still feel negative emotions even if the environment around you makes it feel like you aren’t.
The second situation is related to spending time with family. Many people find themselves fulfilling the familial obligations of spending time with relatives during this time of year. For those who may not have the best relationships with their family, fulfilling these obligations can feel forced if not miserable. It is ultimately up to the individual to determine how far they’re willing to go to maintain relationships with relatives they have issues with. I ask not that you change how you see your family or your relationships with them, but how you see your experience of them. It is a disservice to yourself not to acknowledge both the pleasant and potentially unpleasant aspects of spending time with family. Both can be true: spending time with family can make you happy, and it can also be challenging.
Acknowledging negative emotions that we have can often lead to feelings of guilt and self-doubt, especially when related to interpersonal relationships. These emotions can make it easy to avoid processing the full extent of our experiences. However, learning how to sit with those difficult emotions without taking away from the happy ones can be a powerful part in determining the most meaningful ways of self-fulfillment. By allowing yourself to embrace the duality of your feelings, both the good and the bad, you can grasp a clearer picture of how you view others, the world, and yourself. If you find yourself seeking assistance in figuring out what self-fulfillment may look like for you, feel free to reach out for a free consultation and get started on the next step of your journey today.