by Robert Wilkinson
From years of personal experience and knowing many throughout my life who have had similar responses, it seems safe to say that the holiday season can bring up difficult feelings for all kinds of reasons. Not that we all have them every year, but it is normal for many to experience sadness or some difficulty with their emotions. While I believe this can be antidoted over time, for those who are struggling it can be challenging. Today's article offers some ideas to assist those trying to cope.
It is entirely normal to have deep feelings and occasionally some measure of sorrow or sadness at this time of the year, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the year's end, the "harvests" have been tallied, and usually there are unfulfilled dreams. There isn't much solar force to cheer us up, and those places that are cold and barren are, well, cold and barren.
Yet we're supposed to be happy, cheerful, filled with merriment and goodwill to all. Or so our legends, myths, and advertisers tell us. Those who are cheered by such things are blessed, but there are some times when these do not help us feel better.
There are many contributing causes to all kinds of sorrowful or frustrating feelings. Because it is considered "the end of the year" in most Western cultures in the Northern Hemisphere, of course we would feel that another year is gone, bringing up a self-examination.
What have we done? What have we fulfilled? How have we fallen short of what we desired for the past year relative to last year's intention? Just what have we accomplished? Are we better or worse off than last year? Due to the nature of desire and the subjective mind, it is natural to go into negative or unhappy states. Comparisons of the reality versus the ideal will often lead into funky feeling and mental states.
I believe it is human to feel like we should be doing more, accomplishing more, having more, knowing more, and all those desires with which our higher aspirations would feel fulfilled. And yet, as humans we also have natural limitations, that examined from one point of view both keep us out of trouble AND offer us unlimited promise for the future.
We cannot simultaneously have both lower pleasures and higher ones, except briefly. We must lose people who no longer belong with us or we with them, so that we can make time and space for better ones in the future. Old jobs give way to new skills that promise a more fulfilling life.
Why now? Since nature in the Northern Hemisphere is in its season of rest after a year of putting forth leaves, flowers, and fruits, Winter is where we can understand the past year's events as a whole "cycle of manifestation." In that sense, Winter is a season of "making report" to one's God, Master, or Truth-of-Being. Unfortunately, due to the nature of our subjective self-judgments, we are more apt to find that which is lacking than that which we have accomplished.
It is natural to feel all sorts of things because of all sorts of reasons. It's part of being human. And yet, we have the power to redirect our body, feelings, and mind any time we want. This is not denial in the sense of avoidance, but it is the power of radical dispassion that yields infinite compassion for ourselves and others as humans.
Over the years my own feelings have gone through all kinds of changes. Sometimes I've experienced very sad states, and within hours also experienced true joy. This perplexed me when I was younger and didn't understand just how much power we humans have to redirect when we choose to. I learned that we cannot force it in the usual sense, but we can coax forth better feelings if we persist in not feeding the sorrow and take heart in the moment, breathing and loving the best we're able.
While it wasn't easy when I started, it's become easier over the years to move through strong sad feelings, my own and others', with compassion. While it's human to feel sad at endings it's also possible not to lose one's equilibrium. I can truly say that every time I've chosen to "take the high road" consistently as part of my Spiritual practice, most of my difficult feelings quickly went away and I was left with compassion.
For those who struggle with frustrating feelings, please remember that these too shall pass. Your view will be different quicker than you suspect if you don't clutch at strong negative feelings.
It is also useful to examine whether you're having a hard time, having a hard time because someone else is having a hard time, or whether you're just picking up on the generic hard time that pervades the collective unconsciousness. Because we are linked with others in so many subtle ways, we can be picking up on a feeling that is around us, but not necessarily due to any thing we've done or not done.
That's why it's important to try to see the being having a hard time as something that needs a degree of tender care and gentle self-discipline. Consider it as a test of compassionate detachment, cultivating an open mind and open heart as you learn to bless and forgive yourself, turning negative feelings and thoughts to loving ones.
When any trial of endurance is over, we are left with Self knowledge, strength, forms of wisdom born of our experiences, and the space to grow toward a better life and relationships. The trick is not to do destructive things while we are feeling sad, since these only aggravate our frustration and the intensity of our sorrow.
No matter how bad it seems, it's not as bad as it could be as long as we don't feed the negativity. Tomorrow holds tremendous promise, if we're ready to perceive it and embrace it. Even in apparent failure, our creative imagination is stimulated and we are strengthened by our effort. I have found that gently and persistently choosing to discipline the Higher Mind to remember that lower states are always temporary usually helps us not go into spaces we don't need to, and can even help us realize some parts of our common humanity.
While sometimes it seems grim, we're never as alone, isolated, or powerless as we may feel. Everything changes the moment you awaken to (or remember) your Eternal Self that possesses the Divine Power of Magnetic Attraction.
This ensures that you will inevitably find that which fulfills you, if only you release your internal blockages and reservations about being truly fulfilled. Sometimes it's as simple as opening the door to greet the guest, or getting out of the "house of personality" and seeing a larger view of how we came to be who we are and choosing anew. Getting out of our own way is a useful skill to cultivate so that we can allow our Truth-of-Being to flow through us, rather than stay stuck in unhelpful states of mind and feeling.
We must feel all the feelings there are to feel if we are to master our emotions. That's a part of our human-ness. We must also think all the thoughts we can think so we can come to understand our power to build positive and productive thought forms while rejecting erroneous perceptions and assumptions. These disciplines help us realize and apply our Divine powers, taking them from latent to active as we master various areas of our personal and interpersonal human existence.
As we master our feelings and our minds, we can commune with others who struggle with those same difficulties we also once had, helping them not feel so isolated and/or powerless. In those moments we are offered opportunities to practice our ability to be a loving light in the darkness of worldly experience, and demonstrate a higher Love that antidotes the fear, anger, and suffering that all humans experience who are still struggling with their feelings and perceptions.
So if you're having a hard time, you're not alone. And you can find your way to peace, love, and a sense of well-being if you find the right mental and emotional "antidotes." If you're not having a hard time, then send a prayer to those who suffer as one who has transcended to whatever degree the tendency to have a hard time during the holidays.
© Copyright 2009 Robert Wilkinson