It’s OK to Be Not OK During the Holidays

The holiday season is largely based in our traditions. This can be great for those of us who are wanting to come together with our families and friends, and enjoy the traditions in our culture and in our families. 

On the other hand, where there are traditions, there are also norms. With norms comes expectations! “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Thanksgiving” are three things we hear and say to each other throughout this time of year. Those three phrases capture the essence of what the holidays are supposed to be for us… happy, positive, enjoyable, and pleasurable. 

Now I’m not suggesting you must change how you greet and say goodbye to people during the holiday season. Instead, I’m turning some attention to the expectation and assumption about the season. It’ll be happy. 

But what happens if it’s not happy? What happens when you’re not feeling very good at this time of year? Unfortunately, some of us can put pressure on ourselves to feel differently than how we actually feel. Ironically, this can make us feel even worse!

If you notice what’s happened in the past year or 2, there are a lot of overwhelming things going on! We’re in the midst of a pandemic… still. Our economy has been impacted. There have been many people who have been lost. Many of our relationships have been impacted during this challenging time. And on top of that, the ups and downs of our lives continue happening too. 

Fearing Being a Burden

Some of us might worry about putting the tough feelings we’re experiencing onto other people who want to be happy at this time. Authenticity doesn’t require you to push feelings onto anyone. Instead, it’s about finding the people who are willing to sit with you in your true feelings no matter what is going on outside. So even when the season outside says it’s a happy time, you may not be feeling happy. The goal is to find someone who will listen to you, validate you, and support you with the tough things you’re going through. 

Sometimes this sense of support will also have the benefit of releasing you from some of the sense of burden that you’re having. It can give you a little more capacity to be around others.

Others will Likely Be More Supportive than you Think

Even when we pressure ourselves, we’re often surprised by how many people want to be supportive. If you’re willing to open a door, there are likely others who have had rough holidays too. They know how tough that can be–to want to enjoy the holiday yet be going through something challenging. You might just not know they know this, and they might not know you’re going through it unless you open up with them. 

You Can Celebrate the Holidays and Experience Tough Feelings

Sometimes we can feel as though the only way to live different aspects of our lives is when we’re happy. That’s a tough compromise to have to live by. It’s also an all-or-nothing teeter-totter that isn’t true at all.  You don’t have to be happy to spend time with others, celebrate a holiday, and live your life. Instead, you can identify what is important for you to do and just do it. 

I can’t tell you how many people fall into the thinking that they will do something important once they crack the code of happiness. And then they wait… and wait… and wait. That’s because there isn’t a code. Good and bad stuff happens. Happy and difficult feelings happen as well. 

Key Takeaways:

  1. Everyone has ups and downs and those ups and downs also happy during the holidays. 
  2. Find a support system to support you with the downs. 
  3. The holidays aren’t in charge of your mood.
  4. Sharing your feelings with others who you trust can help you cope. 
  5. Live your life as authentically as possible, even with ups and downs. 

The biggest key takeaway is that things can be tough and it’s normal to have difficult uncomfortable emotions when you’re experiencing tough stuff. You’re also not alone. I guarantee you of that. There are many others around you who understand the pressures of this time of year, and others who are willing to support you with your unique situation.