This is the season when many find themselves struggling with how to get on in life. Maybe the holiday season brings up past negative memories, or maybe there is simply a lot going on. It’s been said, “Trouble comes in three’s,” and sometimes, it seems like Trouble doesn’t stop there.
When I was asked to offer some words of encouragement by someone who is facing several life-challenges simultaneously, the following suggestions flowed onto the page. Over these many years, I have found that all of them work, but whether they “land” for you, Dear Reader, based on however much is roiling around in your mind, only you will be able to say. If you can implement all of them at once, you’re probably not as bad off as you think you are. Just pick one per day, or one per hour, or one that resonates with you in any given moment. Even that much can make a big difference.
Keep breathing. Nothing can change if we are not around to help change it. That’s the reality of this existence. Tough times go away, if we participate in their going away. When we bail, they stick around…and usually follow us wherever we go.
Keep loving. Which means, keep talking, keep hugging and keep nurturing those around you, starting with yourself. How to do that? It depends. First, we have to know what we really need. This may take some time to figure out, but it’s time well spent. Second, we need to realize that needs can change, moment to moment. Long-range needs matter the most, but the “needs of the now” are important, too. Third, we have to be able to accept whatever feeds that need if it’s given, because if it is offered, we have to let it in, in order for that need be filled. Ask for a hug, if that’s the need. Ask for quiet time, if that’s the need. Ask for what you need when you need it…and this may take some practice.
Eat. Nourishing the body is vital, while it helps us do the inner work. During tough times, food may be tasteless and uninteresting. However, the body needs air, light, fuel and water. It’s another of those realities of this plane of existence. Feed and water it. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, but eating is important.
Rest. I won’t say, “Sleep,” because sleep may not come easily in difficult times. But rest is as important as food and air and water. Rest is in the baseline of Maslow’s hierarchy for a reason.
Keep talking. Let the words that are inside come out. Sometimes they may be garbled; sometimes they may be brilliant pieces of wisdom. Sometimes they reveal the reality of whatever is going on in such a way, that it becomes obvious that things aren’t so bad. If talking with someone is not possible, talk with yourself. Write. Write down the conversation that needs to be spoken. Write down the conundrums that bubble up. Getting whatever’s inside out, is as important as evacuating the bowel. When we “plug up”, we dam ourselves. Keep the flow flowing.
Get outside. Take a walk. Breathe the fresh air. Feel the sun on your face. Gaze at the stars or watch the moon for a while. Nature nurtures. We are part of Nature, and to the degree that we physically connect with It, It will nurture us, because we are part of It.
Do something. Anything. If any or all of this is too hard, mop the floor. Clean the toilet. Rake leaves or rocks or dirt. Do something, and then acknowledge that you did that something. We only believe we have the power to do anything, by doing something and recognizing that we did that something. The mind is a funny and tricky companion, and it’s important to use it the way it works. Do something and acknowledge even the little things accomplished, and the mind begins to think differently about itself. Think something positive, even if you don’t really believe it when you think it. Think it enough, and sooner or later, that thinking becomes believable. Doing and thinking and feeling are all connected, and by realizing this, you will begin to feel the truth of it…and then one day, seemingly all of a sudden, the light is brighter, and there is an awareness inside that this ‘Tis the Season of Joy and not something else.