Thinking I would write a post on rising to the challenges of the holiday season, I realised that there was one thing that lay at the foundation of all the things that help me cope with those challenges and that is the fact that I am willing to offer myself the same love and compassion that I offer to anyone else.
When faced with the pressure of Christmas shopping I am not willing to allow it to threaten my health. If I have to compromise slightly on the joy I hope to bring others with my gifts, I remind myself that that joy is usually fleeting compared to love involved with being around my nearest and dearest. Presents are soon forgotten but my real friends and family would much rather see me healthier; much rather be able to enjoy more of my company; than have a great gift on Christmas day and find that I have less energy to spend with them for the following two weeks! You don’t need self-love to understand the logic of this concept however I’ve found that it’s pretty essential if you want to act on it.
When faced with the pressure of too much socialising, again it’s caring for myself enough to want to avoid a relapse that gives me the power to set my boundaries and enforce them. OK, there may be a part of me that is frustrated that I can’t do more; that wants to be able to have the fun that seems to be on offer, but I’ve learned that it’s not quantity that counts, its quality! Twenty minutes of paying full attention to how much you appreciate the fun, joy, laughter and love of a particular social situation, is far more rewarding than two hours of taking it for granted.
When faced with the pressure of not being understood by those who I usually manage to keep at arm’s length, I know that I care about myself enough to know that it’s my own understanding that counts. I take responsibility for making sure my own needs are met. If I’m judged and criticised for that, that’s not my problem. I’ll bring love and kindness to the interactions I have with people, but if they can’t handle it when I have to offer that love and kindness to myself too, that’s their problem. It might hurt sometimes not to be understood, but changing my behaviour and colluding with unrealistic expectations will hurt me more!
For some of you this might sound hard headed and callous, selfish even? But I know that behind this attitude is love. The fact that I am capable of loving myself (even though I know all my own faults better that anybody else could!) means I’m capable of unconditionally loving others too. The better I look after myself, the more energy I have to express that love.
So my wish for each and every one of you this holiday season is that you find that self-love that enables you to set and keep your boundaries and take care of yourself so that you have more to give in the long run!