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What To Do If You’re Not Feeling Jolly Right Now

Leslie Carr's picture
Pierre w/ornaments
As I type this I’m sitting in a San Francisco cafe with campy Christmas music on blast. Fresh off the presses is national news about people who recently resorted to fisticuffs over flat screen TVs, and one woman even got tased in a mall.
It may be “the most wonderful” time of the year, but in some ways it’s also the most bizarre.
Please don’t get me wrong - I actually happen to love christmas. I’ve been collecting ornaments for almost 20 years, and every December I decorate my house with an earnest amount of festive-spirit. I do NOT mean to be a Grinch here, but I also recognize that this is a hard time of year for many people, and I believe that it’s more than worthy of its fair share of cultural criticism. 
One of the problems that I have with this season, to be blunt, is the pressure that it puts on many people to pretend like they woke up with holly between their ears. 
Sometimes life is hard, for all of us - but for those of us who happen to be suffering during the month of December there seems to be a manic pressure to pretend like it’s not happening.
Meanwhile, to suffer while the world bellows “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” usually only makes a person feel worse (more alienated, and more discordant with one’s surroundings), so there’s a one-two punch: The festiveness of the holidays makes us feel ironically sadder than we already do, and now we’re feeling pressured to pretend like it’s not happening. It’s all so unfortunate and unnecessary.
If what I’m describing applies to you this year, I have a suggestion:
Lay your burden down.
Stop pretending that your feelings aren’t happening. Stop pretending that your grief doesn’t exist. It’s OK that you miss him, and it’s OK that you’re angry at her. I know that it hurts, but pretending that it doesn’t won’t make it go away.
Find someone that you trust, and talk about it. You don’t need to carry this alone.
After you have a good cry, try to find a sense of humor in it all - the irony of having to plaster a smile on your face while you bake sugar cookies for the PTA (even if that’s just metaphorically-speaking). Let it all out. Cry while you laugh, laugh while you cry, pick yourself up, and move on.
I know that it’s not the magical solution that we often wish we had, but sometimes the most effective solutions are the simplest - and, sadly, it never serves us to deny the truth.
Is this something that resonates with you? I’m quite sure you’re not alone, so leave a comment in the comment section if you want some commiseration or support.
Dr. Leslie Carr is a licensed clinical psychologist (PSY 25306) and author of the eBook When Change Takes Time. She offers therapy and coaching, both in San Francisco and via Skype. More information can be found at www.lesliecarr.com.


Tiffany's picture

Holiday Sadness

I have always struggled with the holidays. Being a single mom for 19 years, working two jobs at the same time to make ends meet and feeling all alone in the grand scheme of things doesn't exactly make me want to go door to door singing Christmas Carols and sip on hot chocolate while stringing up the Christmas lights, and yes I have always felt like even though I'm hurting inside during the holidays I am suppose to paint that perfect little smile on my face and pretend like I see the world through rose colored glasses. I agree with Amy(above), thank you for writing this, somehow it's nice to know that I'm not alone after all. :)

Amy's picture

Thank you

Thanks for this. I needed it today. Crying at Starbucks and feeling a bit better. A sense of acceptance and a little relief that comes with that. It is especially helpful to read words and a voice that resonates with how I am feeling. Holidays can be a bittersweet time.
Thank you for reaching out with your writing. It touched me.

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