Do THIS When Feeling Crazy During the Holidays:

Do you feel crazy during the Holidays because everyone else seems to be having fun but you?

You think: It is supposed to be a time of celebration, but instead, you feel sad, angry, hurt, tense, or lonely. Why? How can that be? You want to be happy. For brief moments you might even feel happiness bubbling to the surface. Quickly however, it dissipates with gloom or despair in its wake. What is wrong with you?

It is difficult at times like these to make sense of what is happening inside us. We can’t explain it to ourselves, even less to anyone else. We wonder if we are just crazy.

If this is you, I am here to say:  you are NOT crazy.

As I spoke in this video the week of Thanksgiving, there is much to be thankful for. At the same time, life has great challenges and difficulties. If this is your experience now, it’s OK if you don’t feel the happiness and joy like others around you. Sadness, anger, feelings of loss or loneliness are a very real part of life as well. There are reasons for what you feel–whether you understand them or not.

What can you do?

LISTEN.

One of the steps we talk about that is so important in PLEDGEtalk communication is Listen. Good listening is essential for healthy communication. It is an absolute must. We listen to understand.

It starts with listening to ourselves:

Are you angry? Why? Are you Sad? About what? Tense? Because of…? Lonely? Stop and consider the reasons.  St. Augustine once said:

“Men go abroad to wonder

at the height of mountains,

at the huge waves of the sea,

at the long courses of rivers,

at the vast compass of the ocean,

at the circular motions of the stars,

and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

This year, during the Holidays, don’t ignore what is happening in your head.

That won’t help matters. Instead, wonder. Listen to yourself and wonder about what you are feeling and why. It won’t take away all the feelings, but they might begin to make more sense and help you realize you are not crazy after all. Understanding what we are feeling and why stops the whirlwind of confusion that so often robs us of the opportunity to engage the present. We miss what else is happening right before us that can bring positive emotions like joy. Here’s what I mean.

Perhaps this time of year for you is accompanied with real sadness. When you stop and wonder, you understand how much it is connected to a loss you experienced years before around the same time of year. It’s not crazy. It’s not bad. It makes sense. As you settle in and accept that, your mind comes to rest. You are Ok. The feelings are natural and normal. You don’t have to apologize for having them or work to push them away. Just feel.

After some time passes–maybe a few minutes, maybe more–take note to see if anything else comes into your focus. Is there a child nearby who is taking delight in a new toy? An adult having fun giving away a gift?  Beauty in the decorations around you? These experiences and more, bring their own emotions when we stop to wonder about them. And that too is ok! You don’t have to apologize for them either. It is Ok to feel sad when you reflect on past experiences, and it is ok to enjoy moments in the present. Both are very real. Neither contradicts the other.

When you take time to listen and understand what you are feeling and why, the darkness of confusion and feeling crazy gives way to the dawn of other emotions, even joy.

Here is second example. You are in the midst of a family gathering, and you aren’t really comfortable. You might be wishing you hadn’t come–or that the day goes by quickly. Stop a moment with me. Look around. Someone near you is angry, others are bickering. Too much alcohol is being consumed and you remember what happened last time that took place. Cutting remarks are flung back and forth in the name of fun, but it doesn’t really feel like fun. Now, wonder about what it is you are feeling and why. Are you tense? Hurt? Alone? Even angry? Of course you are. Those are natural and normal emotions to feel in situations like these. No need to apologize for them. You are not crazy or even alone in them (though others might not recognize or acknowledge them.) There is no need to run from these emotions, or turn away and stuff them.

What’s interesting to note is that once you understand what you are feeling and why, your energy is no longer needed to sort your feelings or keep them at bay. Instead, your mind is freed to consider what to do in response–or as I said above–to consider how to engage the present.

You are freed to ask yourself, what are your options? Maybe you find others in the room who look like they too are having a difficult time, and you reach out to connect with them. Good. Maybe you give yourself permission to leave before the party is over. That’s ok too. Perhaps on the other hand, you step into any of the above scenarios and voice your concerns: “It is not ok to keep ripping on so and so. That’s hurtful.”  Or: “Too much alcohol is not a good thing–remember what happened last time.” Or: “There’s a lot of frustration or anger in the room, what can we do to get along better with each other?”

Calling out what is can have the effect of bringing what is real to the forefront of everyone’s mind, and bring about change.

You might shy away from calling out what is, thinking you don’t have the courage. What if you thought instead–that it takes a lot of love–for all who are there. When you focus on the motivation of love, it casts away the fear of speaking up.

These are just two examples of many situations that will be played out in the next week to come. I don’t know what you will face. I do know this: I too will face moments where I might feel any number of emotions in the days ahead. If my time is to be well spent, I must stop and listen and wonder and accept what I am feeling and why. When I do, it will free me to engage more fully in the present to enjoy what I can and otherwise to make choices that will help better the experience for all.

May you be encouraged in the days ahead knowing you are not crazy. There are reasons for what you feel, but you can be freed to enjoy other feelings as well. And there are options–choices you can make to better your experience and the experience of those around you.

One final thought for those who like me, follow Christ.

Imagine all the emotions God the Father must have felt the day His Son was born on earth. Oh the joy–for He came to bring hope to the world; and oh the sorrow–because that hope would come with a great cost, the very death of His Son. What a strong mixture of emotions! But it wasn’t crazy. No doubt, both the Father and Son understood what they were feeling and why. And no doubt they focused most fully on the why–because of their love for mankind!

In whatever way I can–though feeble it might be–I wish to express that same love to each of you during this Christmas season!

What other ideas do you have to help us work through the myriad of emotions we experience during the Holidays?  Please share your thoughts below. I know I for one will be grateful!

Mixed Feelings Around the Holidays? Do this!

When the holidays are right on top of us, it’s not uncommon to have mixed feelings. You want to enjoy the season but (and that’s the problem) there is a but. “So and so” is coming and when he does, there is always more tension in the air. Or, you are looking forward to the holidays, but it is a lot of work! Or, you wrestle because with all the hustle and bustle the real meaning of Christmas just seems to get forgotten. Or, this year it’s going to be different because someone you love is no longer here. That one’s hard; real hard.

Whatever the reason, you have mixed emotions about the Holidays. What do you do?

First hear this: you are not crazy for feeling the way you do!

You are not crazy and you are not alone. Many of us have mixed feelings. In fact I would go so far as to say most everyone does to some degree if they are honest. It is normal. It is called ambivalence–when you experience two or more opposing emotions or thoughts at virtually the same time. Ambivalence is what you feel every morning when the alarm goes off. You want to get out of bed, but you don’t want to get out of bed. You probably experience ambivalence numerous times throughout every day. And when the holidays come around, it’s not any different. You look forward to them in some ways, and in other ways maybe you don’t.

Second, remember there is reason for your mixed feelings.

Take some time and consider each of the ambivalent thoughts and feelings you experience. There is story behind each one. There is a reason why you feel each feeling the way you do and why you think each thought that you have.

Consider each of the following:

Of course you have misgivings about “so and so” coming over. If having him/her around causes tension in the air, no one enjoys that. Hence, mixed feelings. You want to enjoy the day, but can’t when you feel tense.

You look forward to the festive parts of the Holidays, but if you are the host or hostess, let’s face it – it can take a lot of work! It’s tiring! And that can rob you of some of the joy.

You know deep down inside it’s not about Santa, and lights, and partying. It’s about love for each other, and love from One who chose to show love 2,000 year ago by sending the world His Son. But sometimes we forget.

Or, spending this Christmas without that special one you loved so much – is very difficult. You want to enjoy the time, but how can you when you sorely miss the one you love?

Mixed feelings. Of course. And they make sense.

It’s OK.

Third, take time to PAUSE and reflect.

You need time to remind yourself of everything you just read. You aren’t crazy. There is a reason for everything you are feeling. It makes sense. You are Ok.

You also need time to capture your thoughts and dial down your emotions so you can re-focus once again on what matters most. For me, I aim take each moment I have and make it count in the best way I know how. Central to this is the four letter word:  L  O  V  E.  I have lived long enough in life to know that nothing matters more than loving well. It is what matters most.

Fourthly, decide to love as best you can.

Take time to enjoy each one present. Smile at them. Listen to them. Keep in mind each person has a history, a story they have been a part of that formed who they are. And each one is in want of being loved, whether they acknowledge it or not. Showing love will be easier in some cases more than others. At times it will be a joy, and other times feel nearly impossible. When it’s the latter, consider those who have loved you at times when you were most unloveable. Then seek to love those around you in the same way.

Finally, whether you know this to be true in your life or not, there is a God who loves you even when you are at your worst. God knows we are all in need of being forgiven for things we have done or said. None of us have loved those around us perfectly. In truth we have fallen far short of that. And when we face that reality, it feels bad inside. Therein lies the blessing of being forgiven. God stands ready to forgive us for loving imperfectly — to rid us of those bad feelings. He wants to go even further than that. He wants us to experience being fully and completely loved. And He invites us to follow Him, so that we in turn can love others as He has loved us.

That’s what Christmas is all about.

Jesus was born to show you, and me, and the entire world the full extent of love. Our prayer is that wherever you are in your spiritual journey, you will know and experience His love in a greater way than you do now. And for all who follow Him may you be strengthened this season and in the coming New Year to demonstrate His love to those around you.

Merry Christmas!