Not such a merry Christmas


It was this time of the year: gleam of unreasonably tiny light bulbs, ugly plastic Santas in every shop window and, worst of all, those awfully cheerful songs playing non-stop on the radio. I looked around, saw ridiculuously decorated trees and people rushing to buy another cartoon of beet soup and I thought "I should be happy at the moment". Yes, I knew everybody from my best friend to my mother to mailman Jack expected that from me. This was (and still is) a competition of "who-is-better-in-pretending-to-feel-awesome-while-they-actually-feel-shitty". And yes, I always wanted to win it.

When I was a child, Christmas was something I awaited for weeks or even months ahead. As I grew older, I drew less and less pleasure out of it. One year when I was extremely depressed, this time of the year was a nightmare for me. All I wished to do was to hide under my bed sheets and stay there till New Year's Eve while my mom wanted me to dress nicely, clean up the house and look after cabbage so it didn't burn. I don't blame her or anyone else for wanting me to participate in all of that. The actual 'bad' thing was that I felt guilty for not being able to fully be there for them - even if they didn't notice it - and guilty for not feeling happy. Yes. Not was I miserable, I also felt remorse because of my state. It was a true "storied po", as my mum likes to say (in free translation). Basically,  I was making the deep shit I found myself in even deeper. Which, from a logical point of view, doesn't make sense AT ALL. But I still did it, of course.

This year, however, I decided to take a different approach. As far as I could, I just let my self feel sad and depressed, I allowed myself to experience the physical pain in my body. And, to be honest, that was the best decision I could make. I literally felt the stress and suppressed emotions realising from my body. And I knew THIS was the right path to happiness - not running away from feelings.

I'm not saying I didn't have a few (or a little more) moments of weakness - when I wasn't able to eat, drink or cheer with my family - but I tried not to punish myself for that. This non-self-destructive behaviour was completely new to me (which was pretty disturbing, actually) but it showed me that there are different ways of treating myself than only demanding perfection and trying to control everything. Now I slowly begin to truly understand that sticking to old and limiting patterns of thinking won't lead to anything fresh and exciting. Sometimes it's really better to let things go and simply surrender, even if it seems scary and unpleasant. Even if it really feels like shit.

Tell me, how was your Christmas? Did you have to fake being happy? I will be glad to read all of your stories.


On guilt and shame


Lately I gave in the cozy and melancholic atmosphere of late autumn afternoons, put me in a rather reflective state of mind. Taking long strolls while freezing my butt off definitely encouraged contemplative mood. Moreover, Christmas is around the corner, and it would be nice to really be able to enter this time with 'pure heart'. By this I mean the heart not cluttered with negative emotions. If I were to name the worst (or maybe, the most unpleasant) feelings, it would definitely be guilt and shame. What is so special about them, you ask? Why are they any better than anger, sadness or even despair? It is because, my friend, shame and guilt involve a whole ton of self-hatred and self-accusations, which are, basically, a weapon aimed at yourself.

Ok, it is just the beginning of the second paragraph, however, we can already draw a relatively clear conclusion out of what I have written. I used the word 'weapon' not without a reason, as it indicates some kind of a battle going on inside of you. As you may be aware, the reality we find ourselves in is very often (or even always) the reflection of our inner state,  hence, at the time being, you might be battling with the rest of the world, too. And you know what? It is completely fine. 

So, if you in a state of resistance and pushback, by definition you are isolating yourself from the world, as well as from life. Guilt makes you numb on the inside - you feel empty, 'dead' even. Paradoxically, you're in the great pain at the same time - pain caused by helplessness. And here, my friend, we come to another conclusion: you live in an illusion. Why? Because you are NOT helpless - actually, you are the furthest from that. 

What can you do in the situation you found yourself in? The answer may seem counterintuitive, as the best thing you can is... surrender. Allow for the wave of 'negative' emotions to overflow you, actually FEEL what is there inside of you. Your consciousness may resist this, however, try to find this trust in you which will allow you to go through this process. Cry, scream, throw plates (maybe just not the Rosenthal ones...) - basically, it's all about letting your feelings manifest themselves. From my own experience, this is the fastest way of letting them go. Moreover after some practice, you will probably not need to turn to such 'extreme' means of emotional release, breathing it all out will be enough.

This technique is also applicable if you struggle with any other emotions, of course. It needs practice, so don't be discouraged at first. Myself, I am still working on understanding and realising feelings which prevent me from feeling well. At most times, I at least attempt to have one goal in mind - act in order to be at peace, not on a battle with yourself. Be like these ducks swimming in a pond nearby - simple and without expectations. And just so beautiful in their incomplexity.

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