The Holiday Feels and Lessons Learned

Merry Christmas 🎄

It doesn’t happen often but when it does, it is hard to miss. That feeling you get when you are feeling purely content, similar to those feelings we have around the holidays. Feelings of joy wonder and content. For myself when I practice acceptance, I get deep feelings of content. Acceptance of who I am, where I am in my life, the people around me and my mindset. I make progress with myself, my negative self-talk, my assumptions and great expectations only when I accept what is. I then have a strong sense that I am grounded and deep feelings of satisfaction follow.

I have to say, that for the majority of my life, I have not liked working on myself. I saw it as a nuisance. Deep reflection, exercising, meditating and eating healthy has always been a struggle. My go to reaction to change and uncomfortable situations is flight. I would rather not think about things. But as I am getting older, I am learning that to access these deep feelings of contentment and joy throughout the entire year, not just the holidays, is to practice acceptance. I learned to accept the trajectory of my growth, the pace of my life and to trust the people around me. Accepting the truly uncomfortable parts of our personalities and dealing with the ugly parts of others is also part of joy. The holidays can get messy, as our lives get messy as well. We get triggered everyday by people and situations that take us to places emotionally we don’t want to be. Embracing these uncomfortable feelings during the holidays and throughout the year is what leads to joy and contentment. This is the lesson that I learned this year. To grow truly is to step into a mindset that may make you feel uncomfortable for a bit.

The work that you do on yourself and the lessons you learn from your growth is compounded over time. The rewards from this work is felt over generations. Eventually you start understanding yourself and you get to a place where you see why a particular situation led you to that person, thing, place or whatever it is that is happening in the moment, good or bad. What I have learned is to listen to each moment. Without judgment and criticism. This is very difficult to do but is well worth practicing over time because nothing stays the same and the bad moments we think we are experiencing are actually not as bad as we make them out to be.

When you get those holiday feels, the joy, the contentment and you feel as if your life is at peace, cherish those feelings, put them in your pocket and use them for the low days that will inevitably come. Growth continues and evolves as you practice getting familiar with feeling uncomfortable and practice accessing feelings of joy and gratitude when you really need it. When I practice acceptance, and see situations in a rational way, I feel content. Acceptance is key. And remember, situations and people don’t always stay the same, there is always room for change and things do change, always!

Happy Holidays and keep moving and growing, because there will always be feelings of joy, just around the corner. I promise.

How to Deal with Strong Emotions

Design the life you want by regulating the emotions you have. I have learned that my strong emotions are not me, they are a part of me but not necessarily who I am. I know what it feels like riding waves of anxiety. I have developed strategies for myself over time to deal with the paradox of my emotions and to get to feeling better. I don’t stuff my emotions anymore and I don’t listen to people who try to tell me to just get over it. I respond to my emotions and my needs as they arise. Pushing your emotions to the side over time and suppressing emotions lead to destructive behaviour. Emotions need to be resovled and processed as they come up. Stress needs to be dealt with. We want our bad feelings to go away so that we can get on with our lives, we don’t want to think about our feelings and distract ourselves. When we distract ourselves from our emotions we end up engaging in destructive lifestyle behaviours, like drinking, gambling, media addictions, just to name a few, to deal with the suppressed emotions.

Avoidance strategies lead to more problems over time. These strategies perpetuate worse behaviour. Resisting and suppressing your anxiety is not the answer. It is exhausting being stuck fighting your feelings. You can overcome these. Here are some strategies I use:

  1. Don’t judge your emotions as good or bad. If you think bad emotions are uncomfortable and need to be escaped, stop that! You need to understand that just because your emotions feel bad, they are not necessarily bad for you, they are indicators that can lead you to make lifestyle or relationship changes if need be. Don’t judge your emotions let them guide you.
  2. Don’t stuff your feelings. Don’t distract or avoid feeling your feelings. Muscle tension, anxiety or nausea, are examples of stuffing your feelings. Don’t fight the body sensations that are coming. Start to be gentle with yourself. Be open to emotions. Feel the feelings.
  3. Don’t negotiate. Bad things happen. Don’t try to plead before the universe that life is unfair. Unfairness is part of life, accept what is in your life. Bad things and good things are parts of being human. Accept what comes.
  4. Don’t shame yourself. Don’t force yourself to be happy when you aren’t. Don’t be ashamed about your bad feelings. Don’t judge yourself or your feelings.
  5. Don’t catastrophize. If you feel down or feel bad don’t make it worse by spiralling into a freak out story. Stop the internal chatter and the worry. Don’t give your internal worry monologue any depth or weight.
  6. Stop checking on your bad feelings. Don’t hyperfocus on negative or bad feelings. Your brain will make that feeling louder. Focus on positive feelings. Don’t validate your negative feelings. Feel them and let them go.
  7. Don’t distract yourself from your feelings. Don’t run away from the imaginary monster that you think is chasing you. Don’t be afraid of the feeling. You will not get stuck in that feeling. The feeling will pass and you will feel better once the feeling has been processed.


These are some of the strategies that I use to process strong emotions. I hope this helps as you navigate your life. Good luck to you and your healing journey. It is a long one but a wonderful one.

Trust

For many years I grappled with the concept of trust. How do I trust myself, my decisions, my outlook on life, my perceived reality? How do I trust others? These questions loom over me constantly. I recently started unpacking my trust journey. I am acknowledging the defense mechanisms I have set up around myself that hinders my ability to trust. The protector part of me that stands in front of me, guides me, through discerning judgements, critical analysis of people and situations and feeds me a constant stream of negative fear. I have become aware of the importance of trust; it is a fundamental steppingstone for development and growth. And most importantly for true forgiveness.

Trust by definition is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. I have always been suspicious of anything that is too reliable or true. I am cynical of everyone. My trust was non-existent. If I can’t control it, it cannot be trusted. The protector in me kept me from trusting, so I controlled and judged. I craved for a better way of being and showing up in the world. I had to unpack trust. 

I know that humans are fallible and need space to make error. I didn’t allow anyone space to be human in my life. It just hurt too much. I am unforgiving because I don’t trust. How many times have I finalized and cut off a relationship simply out of fear, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment and fear of the unknown. Trust is love. I think I needed to learn that the trust I gave to myself was the love I gave to myself, and that was enough to expand outwards. Forgiveness and love are bred from trust. There was a lot of forgiving I needed to give to myself first.

I believe the walls we build around our hearts is the trust we are unable to extend to the world. Fear, painful events in our lives and chronic stress dampen trust over time. Trust is simply a leap of faith to try again and again despite the hurt we face over and over again. There is no real escape from the heartbreak we all ultimately face, and will continue to face, simply because humans are complex and fallible creatures. We are all capable of inflicting serious pain and when we decide to be distrustful, the suffering only multiplies. 

Over the years, I have built layers of judgement of myself and others that festered into cynicism and a negative outlook. I have internalized a lot of pain and practiced years of self-sabotage. Along with not trusting anyone I also did not trust myself. I didn’t trust that I was able to show up in the world in a positive way. That my life was important, that I am able to contribute in a meaningful way, that I had permission to fill space in the world. Today, I see how important trust is in creating the world that connects me with the rest of my community. To practice the life I truly want, I need trust whole heartedly and release any expectations. Despite what shows up in my life, I want to choose trust every day. As I embrace trust, the protector part of me settles down, becomes more still and walks by me, not in front of me, watching carefully, and no longer getting in the way of what is the potential of a beautiful and meaningful life. With trust I am able to form new relationships, new ways of being, seeing and living. 

Trust. 

Casual Conversations about Loneliness

I have always wondered how other people experience loneliness. 

Is it painful? 

Where does it hurt? 

How long does it last? 

I have never posed this question to anyone. It is an awkward topic of conversation. I guess it might be that we don’t really want anyone to know that we are experiencing feelings of loneliness. To be social and have a lot of social connections is more popular than bringing up conversations surrounding feeling alone or isolated. I know for myself, despite having many friends, this does not guarantee feelings of belonging and understanding. Your perception of the quality of your relationships and how you feel about them has a lot to do with how you are going to interpret your feelings of being connected. If the experience of loneliness is highly subjective and is defined by a state of mind of feeling alone or isolated can someone potentially experience the opposite of loneliness if there were a space or platform to open up conversations surrounding loneliness, like in any setting, work, home, the grocery store, the library, etc? Why aren’t we casually talking about feeling lonely?

When I was partying and drinking my younger years away, my motives for partying was for connection and belonging. Of course, peer pressure played a major role in that lifestyle as well but mainly for me it was finding a place to be heard and understood. I wanted a sounding board for my life that accepted me for who I was, which was ironic because when I drank this was not a true representation of my authentic self. So here I was trying to get accepted wearing a mask. Not true acceptance at all. 

As I matured and embraced my health and my new way of life with no alcohol, I adapted to interacting with people differently, in different settings and I grew. My loneliness loosened its grip on me and it definitely doesn’t have the ferocity it used to have. Sometimes it still creeps up on me when I am not understood, accepted, rejected or feel disconnected from people. In those situations I rely on my logical mind to kick in to over analyze the situation and to neutralize my feelings of loneliness. I dropped the analyzing with time and replaced it with acceptance. I adopted the thinking “it is what it is” that’s it! I accepted people for who they showed me they were, the situations I was in, the role I played in situations, how coincidence and chance played out in my life and simply accepted that I was ok to sit by myself if that was what the situation called for. If I needed to be there for me, I was there for myself by accepting myself. If I needed help or social connection I reached out without attachment and grasping. The people pleaser in me fell off. The mask finally gone.

The solo work that I did getting myself healthy established a deep connection with myself that I bring to all my relationships today. The perception of the quality of my relationships has changed as I am aware of my own worth. The better I started treating myself, the better I treated others, this in turn fostered better, healthier relationships. Intimacy comes from knowing your own needs and responding to yourself in a way that you allow true connection. This connection, even if the feeling is just for a moment, is important to keep your emotional and mental health on track. This connection can be with nature, your religion, earth, people, yourself, your children, and the list goes on. Even when it is impossible to physically socialize with other people, loneliness doesn’t have to dominate your thoughts and feelings if you find a way to connect with someone or something that is truly important to you. I found solace in finding a way to cultivate my need for health, through running, cooking organic healthy meals and meditating. Even though these are activities that are done alone, I don’t feel lonely because I am doing them with the person that knows and appreciates me the best…with myself.

3 Ways to Make Better Decisions

My decision-making skills are levelling up as I grow. I have come a long way in making better decisions as my experiences and perspectives mature over time. When I decided to quit drinking, this was a decision that wasn’t made overnight, it was a culmination of bad experiences and mounting health issues that led me to decide. But not everything in my life was decided as so. Some of my decisions demand quicker responses, some need critical and deep assessment and some decisions are made for me without my control. 

Here are some things to consider when making decisions that have guided my own decision-making process. 

Give Yourself a Timeline

When my husband and I decided to quit drinking it was never a good time. There was always a birthday coming up, a dinner or a holiday. We simply just decided on a day and stuck to it. We gave ourselves this day so that when the day came, we were prepared to fully step into the new. It was easier to make the decision because we had each other for accountability. If you make a decision create a timeline for the action and ask someone in your life to hold you accountable to that action. 

Align the Decision with your Values

Values are very personal and unique to you. They are what drives your motivation and sets priorities and goals in your life. What are values you ask? Things like honesty, integrity, authenticity, safety, taking responsibility and the list goes on. Core values are the foundation your life stands on. If you haven’t figured out what your core values are you aren’t going to make decisions that are best suited for who you are and what you truly need out of life. Ask yourself what is important to you so that you may determine what guides your attitude and actions. Health was one of my core values that I felt like I wasn’t honoring when I was drinking. So, when the decision was made to quit alcohol, I felt amazing that I was finally living in alignment with one of my core values. The decision was easy to make and even easier to stick with because of my awareness and dedication to my values.  

Stop Second Guessing your Decision

When you second guess your decision, you don’t make a commitment to the outcome. This is a demonstration of fear and not owning your decision. Asking for feedback regarding a decision is great but it could also lead to externalizing responsibility of your decision-making process to other people and undermines your ability to understand who you are and cope with the unexpected. I know I have made some regrettable past decisions, and this sometimes leads to second guessing myself today and undermines my confidence in making good decisions. I commit to my decision by weighing the pros and cons and accepting the unexpected outcome. I can’t predict or control everything in my life, so I trust my instincts. A lot of decision making is based on guess work and guessing to the best of your ability and staying flexible is the only thing you can do. 

Happy Deciding! 

Let me know what you think.

How do you make decisions in your life? 

Taking things personally

Emotional intelligence is learned over time.

When I started my self care journey, I started noticing some character traits about myself that I haven’t paid attention to before, like being a very serious person. Taking things personally at every turn. I felt like everything was an attack on me.

So I explored this further by asking myself why my life was so self-centric. I realized I wasn’t really of service to anyone or the community. I was just for me only for me. Until about the age of 24 my ego was enormous. Alcohol inflated it. Many of my relationships, prior to quitting drinking were very one sided, and superficial. I didn’t allow true vulnerability to get in the way of my fun. The lack of honesty with myself and compassion for other people did not contribute to any healthy relationships. So I had scarce relationships even less healthy ones at that. This made me defensive about the way I treated people and the way people treated me. I really didn’t know why I was taking things personally, but it was definitely due to a lack of self awareness.

I wanted to change, so I joined a non-profit that provides local art platforms for underprivileged youth. I met a wonderful woman who herself has faced adversity in her own life, overcame these challenges and started a non-profit to give back to the community she was able to heal her own past at the same time. It was a beautiful cycle of reciprocity. I knew then that this was my way of stepping out of my head and allowed myself to be of service and dropped the ego. It was hard for me to see how self interested I was until I started volunteering. Even today I sometimes need a reality check and sit in gratitude rather than throw myself a pity party.

With volunteering I started stepping out of my defensive mode and became more aware of the vulnerability of myself by allowing others to show me their stories. I listened, I related and understood that with listening and not imposing myself on the world I opened up a space in me for other people. I became less judgemental, I took things less personally. I became less heavy and less serious.

If you think you need an ego check or feel like you take things too personally, try volunteering or being of service to someone for a day. To help and service the community allowed me to listen with no judgment and helped me to listen through an open vessel that I didn’t tap into before. Sometimes we all need to do something for each other unconditionally and in turn this helps us do for ourselves without judgement and criticism. I think this is a win-win situation.