Well, we made it to day 30 of the Holiday Challenge! Where are you today? Are you hopeful and excited about the future? Are you struggling to make it through the day? Are you somewhere in the space between?
If you believe you have what you need and you are who you want to become, how will that inform your attitude and the choices you make? The old adage says, “Seeing is believing”, but the opposite is true: “Believing is seeing.”
Are you starting over and facing an unknown future? The task of redefining yourself can be daunting. Where do you even begin? First, reject the all or nothing mindset that sounds like, “If I don’t know today how I am going to rebuild my life, then I’ll do nothing.” Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Consider the following questions to break the task ahead into a manageable framework: What Do I Have …
After any life transition such as divorce or death of a loved one, we feel vulnerable. It may be more difficult than ever to put aside our need to know – our need for certainty. Trust can be difficult to rebuild – with ourselves and with others. Especially after a divorce, we may question our judgment, our ability to make sound decisions.
The past few days have focused on the healing powers found in beauty and in giving and how even difficult emotions, such as fear, can act as connectors to other people. We closed the week with what it looks like to make a decision to move forward.
After any difficult transition, the reward is a new beginning. However it doesn’t just happen. It begins with a decision. This is a pivotal point. Coming to the point of decision is about becoming more aware that you have a choice. As the poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Once you make a decision, the world conspires to make it happen.”
Mark Twain said,:“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.” If you are struggling this holiday season, you may think you can barely address your own needs much less think about somebody else. The gift of the paying-it-forward concept is that you can make a big difference by doing something very small. In giving, you are connected and gain a sense of community.
In difficult times it is challenging to notice beauty. We may dwell on the unfairness of life, or use our critical thinking skills to try and “fix” what is wrong in our lives. We may engage in endless thought loops that question, “What went wrong?” These activities can lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
When we lose someone whether through death or divorce, one of our biggest fears is realized. When we appreciate that we are still standing, in a sense our loss emboldens us to dream bigger. We are also reminded to be fully present to the joy that is in our lives and not allow our fears to hijack it.
We’ve been on the path toward grace for twenty one days. At times, the turns appeared treacherous and it was tempting to veer off and pursue a diversion. However, in hugging the road and staying the steady course, we will reach our destination. In case you need it, here’s a summary of the entire challenge. Here is a brief recap of the past week. Day 15: Identify an Air Pocket Grief can seem all-consuming. In identifying and managing what you can control, accepting what you can’t, and nourishing what is hopeful and positive in your life, you create an emotional …
Human nature is to cling to what we have, even if it’s not that good. Many people stay in jobs and relationships past the time that the job or the person has proven toxic.
You can’t give more than you have. This seems obvious, but without firm boundaries, it is easy to fall into the trap of over-giving and people pleasing. The holidays can become a season of obligation, leaving you emotionally bankrupt, if you aren’t mindful. You are challenged to think of yourself in a season defined by thinking about others.
The 2013 holidays were the first I experienced single after many years. My former husband and I were separated and I dreaded the whole season. Comparisons between my current status and the previous year ran through my head like ticker tape. If this is the space you’re in, know that it gets better.
Letting go is a choice that takes a lot of courage because it requires that you release your attachment to someone who you may still love. If you are widowed, you want to maintain your relationship with your partner, even if it is through grief. If you are divorced, your partner was your home and family. Even if your spouse deeply hurt you, he or she is still a part of you.
A confusing and frustrating aspect about the grief process is that it is not linear. You may start to feel better, thinking, onward and upward only to have something trigger it all over again. You may wonder, “Will I ever feel better? Will I ever get past this pain?”
Grief can feel all-consuming, as though you are being buried alive. People have also observed that bad things tend to happen in clusters. You may be grieving the loss of your partner, when the furnace breaks followed by your hard drive crashing. It can feel like the Universe is pig-piling on, leading to feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
We’re almost to the halfway mark on the 30-Day Holiday Challenge: Go From Grief to Grace! I hope you have been successful in creating some space to appreciate all that is present in your life – the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s time to pause and appreciate where we’ve been and take a peek at where we’re going. If you want a summary of the first six days, you can click here: http://liferecrafted.com/day-7-6-days-closer-to-grace/
Do you need to forgive in order to move forward? Yes. However, if you are struggling with feelings of betrayal, loss, rejection or heartbreak, it may take a while to reach a place of forgiveness.
Attaining peace through forgiveness is especially appropriate to think about during the holiday season. I’m devoting two days to the topic because there are two pieces to it: Forgiving yourself and forgiving others.
Anxiety and fear commonly accompany any difficult transition. Left unchecked, they can be all-consuming, leading to feelings of overwhelm. While we can’t control the thoughts and feelings that come to us, it is within our power to choose what we focus upon. We can control the amount of space that our anxiety and fear consume.
Is it possible to find joy and not feel happy? I wrestled with this question yesterday when my dad admitted for the first time since his diagnosis that he didn’t feel well. I listened to him cough until he was out of breath and I could barely hang up the phone before crying. I was in a dark place.
Emotional support is so important when we are grieving or going through any difficult time, but seeking it from the right person is critical. The right person doesn’t over-crowd you with their emotions, problem solving skills or judgment. Instead, by holding your story, they allow you the space you need to express your own feelings.
Humor is attractive to other people and acts as a great connector. We feel closer to others when we share laughter over our common human foibles. In laughing with each other, we are reminded that we are part of the same human tribe. We use our laughter instead of language to communicate, “I’m with you. I get that!”
Day 7 of the 30-Day Holiday Challenge: Go From Grief to Grace is a good time to pause and take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going in our quest to find hope, healing, and peace. The challenge kicked off with the question: How can we get to a place of grace while in grief? I began the journey in response to my own grief over the end of my marriage and my struggle as I watch both my dad and a close friend battle advanced stages of cancer. You can read more about it here. http://liferecrafted.com/the-30-day-holiday-challenge-go-from-grief-to-grace/
The language we use creates our reality. We literally tell ourselves into being. The holiday season in particular invites us to have a story ready to tell other people and to explain to ourselves the changes in our lives.
If you are experiencing any type of grief due to events in your life, you may feel low-energy. The holiday season may fill you with feelings of stress and overwhelm. How can you re-fill your tank? There are 4 areas to consider in managing your energy- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Physical Sleep and movement are critical to a sense of well-being. When you are anxious or in grief, sleep can be elusive and exercise may get dropped in favor of collapsing on the couch. Even if you don’t feel like it, doing small things such as going for a …
Much has been written about the power of gratitude both in terms of physical health benefits, and emotional well-being. Two psychologists, Dr. Robert Emmons and Dr. Michael McCullough, have done much research on gratitude and their research shows that people who keep gratitude lists are even more likely to make progress toward important personal goals in a two-month period compared to subjects who don’t.
Are you bracing for Thanksgiving dinner, wondering how you are going to explain the changes in your life to relatives or friends who you haven’t seen since last year? Whether you are newly divorced, widowed or unemployed, facing a group of people who tacitly wonder what the real story is can feel daunting.
To be fully present is to notice what is happening in the moment. This may seem obvious, but it is hard to do. We tend to overlay the present with regrets from the past and anxiety about the future. In looking behind and ahead, we can’t effectively engage in the now, and make meaningful choices that will lead us forward.
Practicing self-compassion is the first step of the 30-day holiday challenge. We need to acknowledge that we are going through a difficult time and cut ourselves some slack. This isn’t the year to suck it up and attend parties you don’t want to go to, or stay up late writing holiday cards. Pause and tune into your own needs, because unmet needs are the cause for stress and anxiety, and frayed relationships. The holidays tend to bring out our inner-perfectionist as we put pressure on ourselves to make other people happy through the gifts we buy, the food we serve, …
Perhaps more than any other time of the year, the holidays remind us of what’s changed in our lives. Sometimes these changes are cause for celebration—the birth of a child, a big promotion, a new engagement. But sometimes they’re cause for grief. You recently moved, a loved one is going through death or divorce, or your family is smaller or configured differently. You may feel empty space in the room even when it’s filled with people.