I have been a therapist for almost 25 years in three different states with hundreds of clients, and a common theme that comes up this time of year is helping them overcome sadness during the holidays.
As many of you may experience, family is not exactly what you hoped or expected it to be; and this can often create feelings of loneliness, depression and a sense of not feeling good enough. This can be especially true if you are a caretaker of a loved one who has mental health issues or other mental or physical limitations. Learning to beat the holiday blues can be challenging at any level, whether you are coping with the loss of a significant loved one this year for the first time or, like most people, your family situation looks more like an Andy Warhol painting than it does a Norman Rockwell painting.
I recently heard a spiritual teacher who quoted “family is overrated.” This was such a simple statement, but yet controversial and thought-provoking. Many people would probably take offense to this comment; but having the perspective of a therapist who has seen the gamut of family dysfunction, I really see the value of it.
First of all, the basic fact is you don’t choose your blood relatives. If people were really honest with themselves, would many of them actually choose their relatives as people they would associate with? Or is it really out of a sense of obligation they do so? Or is it due to the cultural belief system that is ingrained in them—the one that says, “Family comes first?”
Check It Out!
Get the support you need during this challenging time of the year!
If making healthy changes in your life is important to you, consider a Life-coaching package. We meet by phone or Skype and create a plan that is just right for you–one that can’t help but increase your resilience.
Grab this opportunity now and click here to order.
I often say to people in my therapy sessions that first you are born into a family, and then you need to find your tribe. I define a tribe as non-blood relatives with whom you form relationships because they are safe to be with when you are feeling vulnerable. And you feel good when you are around them. Your tribe consists of people who just seem to understand you, with whom you can be yourself, and who make you feel unconditionally loved.
I have observed countless people, both professionally and personally, who struggle with feeling unhappy and inadequate all of their lives. This is because they are primarily focused on trying to get their family members to approve of them, to accept them and to love them. When people can let go of the faulty belief system— that family can fulfill all their needs—that if they don’t there must be something wrong with THEM, then it releases them to expand their definition of family. And they find themselves opening up to finding loving connections with like-minded people from their Tribe instead. When you are a caretaker, it is especially important to find ways to refill yourself by being around people who are positive and encouraging.
It helps people become more grateful and joyful, in general, when they do have people in their lives that appreciate them. This is a big improvement over feeling depressed, resentful, and trapped in the victim mentality when they don’t feel a positive connection with their family members.
In addition, it is really important to emphasize that it is our individual responsibility to meet our own needs, and to learn to love and appreciate ourselves first rather than expecting to receive that from the significant people in our life. It is my belief that all relationships are basically a mirror of what we think of ourselves, and therefore, we must first find our happiness and self-worth from the inside out instead of the outside in.
I believe it is a really good time of year to re-evaluate all of our relationships— especially reviewing relationships with family members we try so hard to make work. We do this even when the relationship is clearly “toxic” or unhealthy. Again, this is due to the distorted beliefs we continue to adopt from our culture.
Therefore, I challenge you this holiday season to value yourselves enough to ask this question of all your relationships: “Does this relationship really foster my growth, reflect how I believe I deserve to be treated and resonate with my authentic higher self?” If the answer is no, you need to shift your perspective and focus on finding and/or cultivating your Tribal connections. Let go of the unrealistic conditioned belief of how you believe family “should” be.
“That’s the risk you take if you change: that people you’ve been involved with won’t like the new you. But other people who do will come along.”
Look Who’s Talking
“As a result of my working with Ariel- I learned that I need to focus on myself and love me before I can love others. I need to put myself first and remove myself from a certain situation that I am either uncomfortable with or not happy.”
What Did You Think?
Let us know your thoughts on today‘s issue. Post your comments here.Remember – sharing is caring… Forward this email to a friend!
FTC Disclosures Regarding This Email Promotion: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that we disclose any material connection we may have with a product manufacturer or service provider (advertiser) (16 CFR, Part 255 – Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising). You should assume that (i) we, the sender of this email, have an affiliate relationship and/or other material connection with the providers of products and/or services of others that are advertised or recommended in this email, and (ii) that we may be paid affiliate commissions, referral fees, or other fees, or that we may receive free promotional materials or benefits for sales of these products and/or services. Even though we may be compensated, we strive to give our honest opinions and evaluations.