Give the Universal Gift of the Season
As we enter into the holiday season, known as the happiest time of the year, I wonder how many people are truly happy. I see the toll overly scheduled lives is taking on people who have bought into the hysteria of consuming more, achieving more and packing more into their already full lives. People are walking around (and more dangerously driving around!) absolutely exhausted! I witness them gulping down their coffees to perk up for work and rushing into Starbucks to catch their second wind before fetching their children and racing off to more lessons, practices, games, and events. Too tired to even contemplate preparing a meal, they dash to get a fast take-out meal before returning home utterly depleted. Who in this condition really has more space in their hearts and brains to hear how anyone in their family is REALLY doing and more importantly FEELING? It’s no wonder children and adults are feeling disconnected and drained.
Loving one another takes TIME. We need to build down time into our schedules so we do have an opportunity as couples, families, friends and neighbors to fully exhale and connect with one another. When was the last time you offered up yourself to simply listen and be present for another? No phone, no agenda - just you and another person quietly sharing yourself with one another? Visualize the peaceful scene of a mother rocking her baby. We accept that babies need rocking to be soothed but we don’t fully acknowledge that as humans we ALL need soothing and connection. One of the first things to go to when we feel overwhelmed is our gentleness. Who has time to be gentle when we have to be productive every minute of the day?
When overly tired or overly stimulated, babies get cranky and guess what? So do adults! This tendency of overstimulation and inadequate rest can lead to a serious disconnect with our own feelings and bodily symptoms. We often ignore our body whispering it’s pain and upset until it becomes impossible to ignore! I recently heard of a surgeon who in the middle of performing surgery felt queasy and verbally uttered he did not feel well, but he continued operating. Moments later the surgeon bolted out of the operating room where he vomited violently all over the hallway! He cleaned up quickly and returned to the operating room where the resident had to scrub in to complete the operation. Wouldn’t you rather your surgeon listen to his/her body and postpone your surgery if they are not feeling well?
We are encouraged as a society to put a brave face on even in the midst of our pain and suffering whether it’s physical or emotional. We are told to push through and “make it happen”! Perseverance is a noble quality but sadness also has a voice. Sadness whispers “I’m feeling unsettled”, “I’m scared”, “I can’t keep up”, “I’m lonely”, “I’m not myself today”. If not expressed, sadness finds its voice as pain in our bodies. A stiff neck, an achy shoulder and often an upset stomach are the whispers unheard and unattended to that will find their home in our bodies. Over time pain gets covered up with anger, which reveals itself outwardly as shortened patience and yelling and inwardly with a tightened chest that threatens deep breathing and cardiac performance. Our hearts close and we feel heavy in our spirit and sluggish in our bodies.
So what would happen if we choose to wear our faces of vulnerability instead of our facades of indestructability? What if we decide not to show a brave front but to allow our scared vulnerable side to be revealed? What if we were able to tell a stranger, “look I’m going through a hard time…could you be gentle with me?” Imagine for a moment if our personal challenges were visible to all? As if we are all wearing little post-it notes to our foreheads that reveal what our current emotional or physical challenge is. Some of our notes may read, “I just got into an argument with my spouse”, “my child just went off to college”, “my husband/wife is struggling with cancer”, “I just lost my job”, “my mom/dad just died”. If you could scan this little post-it of insight into another’s heart before interacting with each person wouldn’t you be kinder and gentler? Can’t we assume that EVERYONE HAS SOME SORT OF EMOTIONAL OR PHYSICAL CHALLENGE? So why not CHOOSE TO TREAT EVERYONE WITH COMPASSION?
Lately I’m consciously choosing to be the face of softness for everyone I meet. I’m giving the benefit of the doubt when someone speaks in less than a thoughtful tone. When we slow down and embrace the truth that we are all vulnerable, we can choose to shine our lights of compassion upon others and ourselves. Isn’t this the true meaning of the holidays? Wishing you peace and joy, Diana
Diana Stone, M.A., is a Wellness Consultant and inspirational writer and speaker. Connect with her at email@example.com or www.dianalynnstone.com