Yes, it’s that time again: the holiday season. Filled with heart-to-heart connections, meaningful conversations about all things deep and metaphysical, feelings of peace and extended moments of bellyaching laughter, and maybe even some organic chocolate!
Are your holidays more about tolerating than enjoying or not wanting to celebrate at all? Are they filled with anxiety, fears, imagined conversations in your head about what will be happen while thinking, “I hope I can resist the urge to strangle Uncle Fred this year”?
You’re not alone, and for the estimated 40 million Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) in America alone, the holy-days are more like the helly-days.
Why is it that this time of year—that is celebrated by so many—can also be the worst few weeks of the year for you?
For many of us, meeting up with our family of origin brings us back to feeling like we’re little children again. We feel we’ve done all this great internal work, only to be flustered each time mom calls you by your cutesy childhood nickname, or your dad tells you what to do—again. And again. Oh, and again.
And yes, it’s true, you have done lots of great work, but these moments (like a good soulmate) will bring up every unresolved issue in a very short period of time. Time to get out the chakra stick! (I don’t know what that is, I just typed it… but maybe someone will invent something that balances our chakras in a portable stick, like a selfie-stick but without the narcissism.)
So, while pretending to in-joy mom’s boiled turkey (she just hasn’t gotten the meaning of “vegetarian” yet, has she?), you can remember that this can be a wonderful time of year—IF you apply all the tools you’ve learned and remember what I’m about to share here:
As much as your family of origin, other relatives, and some friends can frustrate you, as much as their habits are so far in the opposite direction of everything you hold dear, as rude as and obnoxious, and as opinionated and judgmental as they can be, it’s not your job to fight them, and it’s certainly not your job to change them. It’s not your job to raise their awareness on an issue close to your heart hoping they’ll join your quest (unless they ask, but even then, stick to “In my experience…” vs. “You should…”). And it’s not your job to hold their energies as many of us subconsciously often do to resonate—AKA connect— with others.* It’s your job to give them what you wanted when you were younger and still do: unconditional love and acceptance.
“But how can I love and accept Uncle Fred when he goes off on politics?!?!?!”
I never said it was easy. Easy is what many of us have co-created in our adult lives: a generally like-minded group of friends and new family who typically agree with you on most things. And who occasionally but lovingly and only with permission challenge you. But Thanksgiving and the subsequent group of December holidays are a crash course in your spiritual growth and how the ‘updated you’ can do and be in more difficult situations. It is your lifetime enlightenment training condensed into a few hours or a couple of days.
And to make it all even more difficult, as a Highly Sensitive Person you FEEL everything. You can feel mom’s grief, and dad’s anger. You can feel Uncle Fred’s condemnation in your bones. You can even feel the fear in others that you’re not even that close to. What to do then?
The same thing!
No matter how much you love others, remember that it’s NOT your responsibility:
- to enlighten them;
- to give them a bite of your reality sandwich; or
- to absorb and keep their energies.
It IS your responsibility; however: to let them be exactly who they are, how they are, where and when they are. Metaphysically speaking, you are only responsible for your own soul path.
We have to realize that no one is going to change because we tell him or her to. It’s hard enough to change ourselves even when we know better (extra dessert indulgers, you know who you are!). And no matter how much experiential evidence you may present, if it conflicts with a another person’s religious or general life’s beliefs or even scientific understandings, it might be rejected before you even say, “You know what…?” In this way, it’s no more effective than them trying to change you!
In fact, most people—even intimate partners—won’t change even if you lovingly ask them to. Yes, even if it’s for their best interest. And if they did make that change for you and not for them, some part of them is going to resent it. This further closes the heart and distances them from you when all you really desire is the best for them (typically as we see that ‘best’ to be, not what their soul really needs) and for the two of you to truly connect and thrive. Ideally, as a highly sensitive person, you can use these abilities as the gift they’re meant to be. With practice you can we can tune into their soul’s desire; this will invite a very different view of that person’s challenges and how to best respond to them.
Misery is the distance between what is and what we think should be.
What we want to be true for all people may only be true for the few of us, and perhaps for our few closest 4,994 of our 5,000 friends on Facebook. But not for Uncle Fred. Or Aunt Agnes. Or Grandma Tillie. Or heck, even cousin Tiffany and her bratty little kids. Not everyone is going to think like you do. And the more okay with that that you can be, the more your holiday experience will be festive as opposed to quickening the desire to exit their home and sage their evil koodies off your back.
When they spew their evil venom, misguided selves, or network television talking points in your direction, if you know it’s not your job to take it on, or to change their POV, you can let the energy go right through you. You can open your chakras and on the in-breath say, “keep what’s mine” and on the out-breath say, “Let go of what’s not.” This way, you’re in the flow of life, not blocking or walling everything off. Walling is a temporary fix that does work, but over the long run produces chronic lethargy, feelings of stuckness, anxiousness, confusion and much more. Like a river it’s best to be flowing. If you install a dam, the whole ecosystem changes but if you open a window with presence, you can consciously choose what view to experience.
This is not an easy practice, but from my experience and that of the thousands of clients I coach in healing and thriving as a Highly Sensitive Person, it’s the only one that works. But if you think about it, is anything easy worth having? If you look back on all your most challenging times, haven’t you learned something that you wouldn’t or couldn’t have learned any other way?
If you want easy, stick to conversations about the weather or stay at home on the holidays watching It’s a Wonderful Life on repeat, hoping that one day you’ll have a George Bailey moment of joy running through the streets yelling, “Merry Christmas!” and everyone showering you with love and money. My clients and readers welcome the opportunities to grow and expand. We know that we can only ascend to the degree we can unconditionally love, so why not step outside the perceived comfort zone and face this challenge head-on?
*Much more on why we connect so intensely and what can be done about it can be found in my book, Self-Care for the Self-Aware. Or you can book a free 15-minute consultation to see if what I do in 1:1 setting in person or by phone or by Skype, or a group experience can benefit you here.