As December sets in, everything around you oozes of cheer, joy and happiness. Daily life seems to get a boost of excitement when you see that preparations for the celebrations have begun all around – be it Christmas, New Year’s or weddings. For many people, it is a chance to reconnect with loved ones and do everything that they had missed out that year. However, amidst all the December enthusiasm, there may be people who are feeling low, depressed and lonely. Whether they are away from loved ones or surrounded by them, they feel a sense of disconnect and isolation.
The ending of a year often implores one to reminisce about their life and its meaning. Sometimes, unwelcome tags that you give yourself seem to become more prominent at this time as you tend to compare yourself to others – ‘I’m the only one who is still single!’ or ‘I’m still not successful enough compared to them’, ‘I’m still exactly in the same spot!’.
One negative thought then leads to a chain of negative thoughts about the past and future, leading you further and further away from the present and more and more into turmoil.
You feel low, blue, hurt, or confused and the festivity around could bog you down even more. You see merry making and brightness all around you, and that makes the pain within more obvious. This contrast between the inner weather and the outer weather then gets you even more upset and sad. You feel left out, as though you are all alone, almost like the odd one out. You internally wonder – “I’m stuck in doldrums while everyone else is so happy…. Will I ever manage to be so happy?”
Sometimes, you also refrain from having a good time. You almost don’t allow yourself to have fun. You politely decline friends when they make plans, you tell family to carry on. You don’t even want to look at the nicely lit streets as you pass by.
Have you ever wondered – why don’t you embrace the merriment, even when you have a chance to, just because something is wrong?
Well, the answer lies somewhere deep in our conditioning.
Research has shown that people spend more time avoiding unhappiness than seeking happiness (Know more)
Rather than enjoying the holidays for what they are, you may instead spend time thinking about how you messed up last year, and about how you will avoid unhappiness in the future year. Then you feel dejected, and that you are not strong enough to deal with problems when they come. This swamps your mind and you feel that enjoyment is not for you, at least not until you have solved your problems.
However, what you don’t realize is, you needn’t necessarily solve the problem before you let yourself be at peace. You needn’t fix the future before you embrace the present!
Being in the Present – the Antidote to Remaining Low
When you allow yourself to be in the present, mindfully, you will get a break from these almost automatic thoughts. You will get some space to get in touch with what you feel in the moment. Just acknowledging a feeling means accepting what you feel. It means not necessarily wanting these feelings to go, before you can enjoy the present. When you no longer fight the feeling, your mind can rest and be free to experience the present moment.
As Eckhart Tolle says, “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”
A moment can have either happiness or sadness or both. If an unpleasant feeling comes to awareness, accepting it will make it easier on you to embrace both – the tinge of pain, along with the sprinkle of pleasure. By being mindful, you can make the most of every day and avoid getting caught in the illusion of tomorrow.
December is just another month with the chance to experience so much more and avoid putting undue emphasis on the end of the year. You toil through each day, making several ends meet, juggling several thoughts and emotions. You need your own compassion, as much as anyone else does. So give yourself a hug, just for trying hard, just for each attempt you make. Embrace yourself, and you will slowly notice, the bitterness melts away, making space for some warmth, some happiness.
We leave you a poem by Danna Faulds that conveys this message beautifully, that reminds you that you needn’t be perfect before you embrace yourself, and what’s around you.
Walk Slowly (Danna Faulds) –
It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in me settles, softens, makes
space for imperfection. The harsh voice
of judgment drops to a whisper and I
remember again that life isn’t a relay
race; that we will all cross the finish
line; that waking up to life is what we
were born for. As many times as I
forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I’m going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, and be,
and walk slowly into the mystery
From all of us at Inner Space, wish each and everyone of you plenty of space to be compassionate to yourselves, each day of the new year 🙂
Do share your opinions and views with us through your comments
Image Credit: Shaun Fisher
Post contributed by: Naisha Pandya