Thursday, November 18, 2010

When we don't feel like being thankful.

Soon it will be Thanksgiving. Most people like Thanksgiving because a.) it revolves around food and b.) you don't have to buy gifts. I guess I should also add that it is a day for family and football as well. So all around, a fun holiday.

But some people are just not in the mood to feel "thankful." They may have lost a loved one, or have been laid off of work, or have a sick child. They may have memories of lovely family holidays in the past that no longer exist. They may hate being forced to be around people they just simply do not like. The list goes on and on.

So, what do we do when we feel this way? Certainly all of my patients and their families and friends do not feel so thankful right now. And platitudes and cheery greetings do not help at all.

So what does?

Really, there is nothing. Nothing can make the pain go away. But the problem is, most people turn inward towards the holidays. They steel themselves against any happiness creeping in. It is as though they won't allow themselves to feel anything but miserable. They sneer at the "lucky" people who seem happy and content. They simmer in their own regrets and misery. It can be a very lonely place indeed.

Well, I have to tell you something. We all feel like that on many days, particularly during the holiday season. Even the smiling, seemingly happy people. If you can remember that and remember that you are certainly not alone in your despair, it could help you to feel more connected.

And a connection to anything is something to be thankful for.

So, you may have a load of misery that feels especially compounded at the holidays. How to get through it? Connect.

You can connect in many ways. It is okay to reminisce about the old days. You are connected to them. It is okay to remember those we lost and pine for them. We are still connected even though they are not here in person. You perhaps had something great. And although it is gone now, you can be thankful for the wonderful memory, even through tears.

Now, the ones that are still here who drive us nuts are another issue. But we can be thankful we have to only see them occasionally. And leave it at that.

The bottom line is, you don't have to be thankful or cheery. You can feel sad at holiday time. But don't take it out on yourself. Do something nice for yourself. Connect with yourself if need be. And find ways to be thankful in small ways. Reach out to others instead of always drawing in and admit that the holidays can be tough and limit yourself to a few activities that make you, if not happy, at least content. And don't be alone. Connect to something, anything.

The holidays are hard. Life is hard. But we are really not alone on this. We are all connected to each other in so many ways.

And that is something to be thankful for.

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

If you don't get everything you want, think of the things you don't get that you don't want. ~Oscar Wilde

Oh, my friend, it's not what they take away from you that counts. It's what you do with what you have left. ~Hubert Humphrey

So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key. ~The Eagles, "Already Gone"

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