Bitter Sweet Christmas – Dealing With Difficult Emotions

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Christmas can be a difficult time of the year for many people. High expectations, memories and fatigue can bring problems for anyone’s inner child.

Christmas can be a very difficult time of year. Conscious of a media generated image of an “ideal family Christmas,” our aspirations are high, and if we fail to realise our hopes and expectations at this most highly pressured time of the year, the disappointment can be enormous.

Not everyone will have had a good year. Some people will have suffered loss and disappointment. Christmas seems to bring all our feelings into sharp focus, bad ones as well as good ones, and this can make for a very volatile emotional mix. Combine this with the pressures of organising Christmas, the shopping, the cooking and maintaining peace and goodwill within the immediate family, not to mention financial constraints, and it’s hardly surprising that Christmas can be a time of great stress, as well as one of great happiness.

Christmas Memories: Not Always Happy Ones

Christmas time is such a benchmark of each year that we cannot help but remember Christmases past as we prepare for the Christmas which is about to arrive.

Memories of loved ones who are no longer with us are bound to affect us as we prepare for the festivities. Somehow, feeling sad at Christmas time (when all around you are full of Christmas spirit) is worse than feeling sad when no one is expecting you to be particularly cheerful. Being emotionally out of tune with friends and family can be especially difficult, as you strive not to be a wet blanket and cast a gloom on the festivities of others.

If this is how you feel this Christmas, be kind to yourself. Take time out to grieve, to remember those who you may have lost recently. Give yourself permission to explore your feelings of love and loss without feeling guilty, because by taking time to acknowledge your feelings, even in the midst of all the Christmas turmoil, you will help yourself to move on.

Christmas can be a wonderful time for taking stock, for planning ahead, for rest, renewal and preparation for the new year ahead. Loss and sadness are part of life, just as happiness and celebration are also. Give yourself some leeway to feel whatever you’re feeling, even if it is Christmas.

Christmas and the Inner Child

Christmas is a time of year which is very child-driven, but whilst we are rushing around buying expensive presents and huge quantities of food, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that sometimes, perhaps a child would like a few minutes quiet time, rather than being bundled into the car for yet another awful shopping trip. Less rushing around in search of that perfect sheet of wrapping paper or the last punnet of cranberries in the Western world and a little more time spent reading a story, playing a game or even doing some Christmas cooking can be therapeutic for parents and children alike.

Christmas really only is one day in the year, and whilst adults can be driven by the spirit of their own inner child, seeking to make up for disappointments and things forgotten in Christmases long ago, children (especially little ones) can end up being bewildered by the disruption of their routine, the influx of people and an excess of new experiences.

Tend to your inner child as and when you can, as well as to the reality of little ones who may need boiled eggs and bath time on a regular basis at this time of year to keep them happy and grounded.

The Christmas Row

At Christmas, we tend to spend an awful lot of times with our families, undistracted by work, friends or any of the things that make up our normal comfort zones. Disrupted routines, extra pressures, difficult memories and unrealistic expectations can all conspire to add to the volatility of the Christmas mix.

Try to avoid the Christmas row by a little judicious time management. Make sure to incorporate a few healthy walks into the Christmas timetable. Don’t try to cram too many family festivities into too little time, but try to spread events out over the holiday so that everyone can pace themselves and no one ends up tired and emotional too often.

Peace and Goodwill to All Men

All the above is counsel of perfection. The reality is that we all have good Christmases and bad Christmases, and these seem to generate at random, no matter how much or how little effort we put into them.

Remember, when it comes to Christmas, the rules are, there are no rules – make merry in whatever way feels right for you. In a week’s time, it will be a whole new year and a whole new adventure to embark upon.