By Sarah Sapora, self-love and wellness advocate
There are certain things I know to be (literal) guarantees for me during the holidays. For example, I know I’ll have some friends who can’t wait for the Hallmark movies where everyone finds love against odds at the last minute. While me? I’ll be watching James Bond movies and skipping every viewing of Love Actually on network TV. I also know I love the smell of Christmas trees but never actually want to commit to owning one. I know I’ll feel a surge of love to connect with my parents, and I’ll pause at the fact I haven’t started a family of my own.
My holidays are pretty standard these days. But there’s always a chance a curveball will get thrown my way. And then what?
Which brings me to the point of this blog; how do we handle the holiday potholes that can sometimes appear in the road before us? The comments from family we don’t expect or the moments of self-loathing or doubt that kick us in the gut. The fears and the anxiety. The drama we never asked for that somehow makes it to our holiday table…
Breathe. Pause. And bring on some serious self-love.
We’re going to review four holiday (emotional) hazards to help prepare you for the season, but first, let’s get on the same page as to what self-love actually is.
Forget the bath bombs (though those smell nice) and the manicures (again, also lovely) and think a bit deeper. I believe that “self-love” is any idea, belief or action that brings you closer to your highest self. So, if we think about how we want to FEEL in our life, “self-love” would be anything that we do or think that helps us to get to live in that desired state of being.
Let’s assume, for the sake of the below examples, that you are someone who wants to feel valued, worthy, and safe. Pretty standard baseline emotions to desire in life, yes? If the following happens to you this holiday, or something like it, here are some ways to navigate the situations with self-love.
Hazard: You are flying solo for Christmas (again) and your family has something to say about it.
This may leave you feeling… judged, less-than, or lonely.
*BAM* We just went there. Maybe you are divorced or have never been coupled off; regardless, being single during the holiday season can be challenging for many people. What we want is to feel accepted and loved AS we are, and yet sometimes people simply can’t keep their opinion to themselves. So, when a relative or friend questions your relationship status, it can sting right where it hurts the most.
When this happens…
First, remember that other people will put THEIR feelings about relationships onto you- and for many people, that means the narrow view that one cannot be whole without being part of a couple. That “traditional” relationships are the only way we can be happy. This is a representation of their limitations and not your value as a person.
Second, remember what brings you joy. Remember that your entire sense of self does not come from being a partner. What do you LOVE to do? What brings you joy?
Third, focus on what other people need. Who can you give love to outside of a relationship? A friend or family member? A cause you can contribute to? There are lots of ways to give love outside the confines of a romantic relationship.
For example, try saying…
“I know you want to see me in a relationship – I do too! I look forward to when that happens. For now, I’m showing myself as much love as I can and doing things that make me feel great. Like, I’m hiking a new trail every week!”
Hazard Two: Your aunt gives you the stink eye when you go for seconds at the dinner table, and then makes an underhanded comment about your weight.
This may leave you feeling… insecure, judged, self-loathing.
When our family or loved ones judge us for what, and how, we eat, it can be really hurtful. It may trigger our own body issues and make us feel insignificant.
When this happens…
A few things. Start by knowing that it is possible your loved one may not know their words or behaviors are hurtful; it’s always possible. Also understand that many people struggle with their own body image and they may pass their pain and limitations onto you consciously or subconsciously.
This is a perfectly fair time to assert your boundaries. Start by some affirming self-talk. Remind yourself that your body is your business, that “food is just food” and that others opinion of you is a reflection of them and not you. And then speak up for yourself, respectfully and firmly.
For example, try saying…
“I do not make comments about your body or what you eat, I would appreciate your showing me the same respect. I know you love me, and I love you! Let’s move on to another topic.”
Hazard Three: Funds are tight this season, which leaves you feeling like a failure when it comes to your ability to spread the gift-giving cheer.
Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where the holiday season is synonymous with commercialism and excess. We are pressured to give quantity and quality, and every commercial on TV reminds us so. It’s natural to want to show our love for others by giving gifts… so, when funds are tight, we may feel as if our inability is a reflection of our value.
When this happens…
Remember that love is love. Think about WHO your friends and family are and what is meaningful for them. Also, remember that our cash-flow does not show the world WHO we are& and the people that DO think our income and value are the same things are not people who appreciate us for who we really are.
Then try a different gift-giving strategy. Try handwriting notes with sincere affection, hand-making cards, or inscribing a book with your heartfelt words. Never feel that you have to apologize to your loved ones for your financial situation!
Hazard Four: New Years is just around the corner and you are NOWHERE near where you planned on being by the end of the year.
This is the time to practice some serious self-loving talk. It is easy to fall trap to the idea that we are less than because we haven’t accomplished our goals. Remember&
We may feel our life operates on a time-clock, but the Universe does not. Imagine the idea that things in life happen FOR us and not to us, so the bumps we hit along the road or the pace at which our life progresses is part of the journey that we need in order to grow.
Focus on what you’ve learned and not what you’ve crossed off a magical to-do list. How have you grown? How have you fallen and picked yourself up? Sometimes the greatest times of growth are the times we actually do the LEAST.
And then surrender. Whatever your faith, know that sometimes the things that we want are not what is our Highest Good. Breathe. Inhale and exhale. And affirm yourself by saying, “I release my expectations of what I believe my life needs to be. Instead, I ask for what is in my Highest Good and I trust that my path will reveal itself.”