This past week, I’ve been increasingly aware of the pressure to be merry. From many sides I’ve encountered variations of this:
- After reading a poignant article written by a person who’s suffered years of chronic pain that hasn’t gone away in spite of all the different “solutions” that were tried and how every single time a new hope was formed (maybe this will be the right tool to make the pain disappear) and how invariably the hopes were crushed harder and harder every time; after reading this article, then, a healer I know is compelled to reach out and offer a free session – yet another technique holding the same promise and the potential for the same disappointment if not despair.
- After listening to his girlfriend going through a rough time with all the losses in her family which anniversaries she “celebrates” right in December, a friend of mine offers words of hope and good cheer, which to her sound like an invalidation of her feelings, as if her grief wasn’t real or justified and she should just be happy now.
- After navigating the best she could through a rough patch using EFT to squash her negative feelings and staying positive per the law of attraction, a client is surprised to be still plagued by strong confusion and depressing thoughts.
The common point in these three stories is how there was an attempt at silencing “bad” emotions or sensations. Not only does pain – whether emotional or physical – has a message that only the recipient can decode and understand, but attempting to remove, silence, transmute the pain before its message is fully integrated is both ineffective and potentially unkind.
If a friend of yours is suffering from holiday blues, don’t try to cheer them up. If you do it’s sending to them a pernicious message to them: “it’s not OK for you to be sad.” And that can be interpreted in a number of ways… Maybe it’s not OK for them to be sad because it brings you down? Maybe it’s not OK because they should just feel whole as they are, they should just focus on the present moment since there’s no suffering in the present moment? Maybe it’s not OK because it makes you feel powerless to help them? Yet, all these interpretations have something in common…
It’s very subtle, but the commonality is that the person who does the cheering up does so for his or her own sake. Of course it comes with the best of intentions, you probably just want to help, right? But by sending the message that feeling low or sad or lonely or lost or whatever the holidays bring to the table for your friend(s) is somehow not acceptable, you are diminishing their experience, invalidating their feelings and ever so slightly trying to dictate the way they should be in the world.
What if your desire to fix their legitimate pain, to – shazam! – make it go away with an unsolicited dose of healing, wisdom, humor or plain old help, what if this urge had more to do with you than it had to do with them?
What if was so frightful for you to look at your own physical or emotional pain that you just couldn’t deal with someone else’s pain?
Try this. Ask yourself if there’s an area of your life so painful you don’t want to think about it. Maybe you’d rather squelch, silence, repress, avoid, deny it altogether. And it’s this resistance that pushes you to “fix” someone else in spite of themselves.
Once you realize that your reaction to their pain is really but an extension of your own inner shadow and the way you deal with it, your healing will have begun. It takes courage to look straight in the face of negative emotions. But that’s what tools like EFT are for. They’re not intended to repress bad thoughts and feelings, but to help you stay with them long enough so that you can see through them to the layer underneath, and the one under that, and so on and so forth, until you reach the core.
And the core is always made of love.
So skip the good holiday cheer this season. And go straight to love. Love your family, your friends and yourself with all the pain these holidays are bringing up. “It’s OK to feel bad. It’s OK to feel bad for as long as you want. I’ll be with you for as long as you feel bad and I’ll be with you when you’re ready to feel good. No, I won’t tire or snap, because I see the call for love underneath all this: your call for love and my call for love too. We’ll be OK through the storm, both of us my friend. Both of us.”
Now that’s the holiday spirit!