Light through darkness

December is one of the months where the days are short, dark, and cold. It can be easy sometimes to let the dark and cold weather influence or have an impact on how we feel. It’s so important during these winter months to metaphorically keep your pilot lit. I am talking about that tiny light inside of you, the one that contains hope, spreads holiday joy, cheer, and happiness. It also guides us into to feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Much like that of the little pilot inside the furnace or water heater, it’s tiny but mighty. It should always be well-light as it helps to keep us going.

Unfortunately during this time of year, I have noticed that more and more people have allowed their flame to go out. Sometimes it comes out in disguised ways, and can take on the form of being curt, disconnected, intentionally hurtful to others in our lives. I’ll be the first to say that I have compassion and understanding of where those manifestations may be coming from. This world can be very trying and some days it can feel like it tries to eat you up and spit you out. It’s okay to express feelings of hurt, sadness, and anger, but what is not okay is displacing those feelings unknowingly onto other as a way of relieving the burden.

The Unseen Monster

Every holiday season starts off the same for me, I tend to spread lots of holiday cheer and light to as many as I can find. Lately, I’d say about the last 3 years I’ve seen more holiday “Grinches” than I could care see in a lifetime. When anger and sadness are present in the body and mind, as humans we tend to express it in mostly unhealthy ways. These feelings are often displaced and taken out on others. It can take the form of becoming hyper defensive/aggressive on a position, sending a hurtful text, ignoring or isolating others, being verbally abusive, and the list goes on. I’ve finally identified what is truly going on, a monster.

You see this “monster” appears in the form of a problem and if not properly dealt with the monster can jump from person to person. It manifests quickly and takes many shapes and forms.

As a fun exercise, please follow through a descriptive example.

Example 1: Your kids kept you up all night and you did not get sleep. Your spouse decided to take the last bit of coffee and donuts before work, thus inconveniencing you to make an additional stop on the way to work (you did not have time for). You arrive to work, to join a tense Monday morning meeting only to find your coworker did not do their portion of the project due today. The frustration from last night and this morning have now been building and you finally yell at your coworker that they are incompetent and have horrible time management skills. The monster has now been passed to the coworker.

After being yelled at by you, they go on to sit in traffic where people continuously cut them off. Finally, they get to the grocery store to find that all the pizzas are sold out, which is all that they had money for tonight and will have settle for boxed pasta salad which often upsets their stomach but is affordable. The checkout person is discourteous and rude, and this person finally makes it home. Their kids are upset that the there is no pizza as promised and start acting out. This person yells at their spouse that if they only made more money this wouldn’t happen! The monster has now moved to the spouse.

This monster continues to be displaced from person to person in a never-ending cyclic mess. While this example may seem silly, is it? For some, this was just Monday.  Good news, the monster can stop with you.  While we can’t always prevent the monster from coming to us, we can certainly prevent it from being displaced onto others. We can control our feelings and emotions in more healthier ways.

Keeping your pilot lit.

There are many things one can do to help support the control those feeling and emotions and channel them into healthier outlets. I personally enjoy mediation as a supportive outlet. Taking about 10 mins on average a day (sometimes longer if you choose) is a great way to release those pent-up feelings and energies. I have been practicing mediation for over 2 years now and have seen differences in my reactivity to things, overall happiness and mental health. It can also be helpful to check in with a licensed professional who can help you achieve your mental health goals.

Try Art! You’re level of experience, doesn’t matter in this case. With endless possibilities in mediums, allow those emotions to come out onto paper, canvas, or clay. It doesn’t have to make sense or be perfect, just the act of physically manifesting can really help to release negative energy and feelings.

Another healthy activity is stepping away from unhealthy behaviors.  To me this takes the form of not participating in unhealthy activities, which go beyond some of the more common ones like drinking, or smoking. Unhealthy behaviors can also take other forms like being an aggressive driver or internet trolling. Whatever your unhealthy behavior is, if it hurts you and others then its time to look for a healthier way to cope.  Find activities that spark joy, happiness and hope in your life. All these healthful activities can help keep your pilot lit and reduce the chance of transferring the “monster” onto others this holiday season.

Transformation of light.

No matter what life brings you this holiday season, I encourage you to walk in the light as much as possible. Continue the good fight to be happy, hopeful and at peace. This world will never stop being what it is, but we can change ourselves and how we respond to it. I encourage you to not let the negative energy of others to stay with you. Instead, use it to fuel health promoting activities like mediation, working out or practicing kindness to others.

If we remember the classic story of the Grinch, he was so mean to the who’s in Whoville because he himself lived in a garbage dump, was bullied and while we don’t know his full back story but it’s safe to assume he was dealt some crummy cards. Even though he wasn’t a solid community member and displaced his anger and sadness onto others, in the end the overwhelming happiness and joy brought by the who’s changed his way of thinking. Ultimately allowing him to be free of the “ Unseen Monster”. I guess what I am saying if you are being kind, stay kind, and if you aren’t for whatever reason, choose to be. Life is tough enough as it is, and we don’t need anymore hate, anger, sadness, hopelessness and fear to be spread around.  Choose light now and always.

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