‘Tis the season to be nutt – leave the old stuff behind
Special to the Sun
Here come the holidays, again. And here comes all of our “stuff,” again. Just when we thought we were moving forward, we are hit again with our old fears. “I’m alone, no one cares about me, I’m a failure, I let everyone down, everyone lets me down, I’m so disorganized.”
Try not to panic. There is something you can do to rise up out of your “stuff.”
First, notice you are back in your old thought patterns. The part of you that can step back, even for a moment, and see you are caught in your old stuff, can help you from being totally consumed by these depressing thoughts.
Avoid the temptation of getting into an argument or power struggle. Do not try to convince yourself you are not a failure, or not alone, or that people don’t actually always let you down.
Recognize underneath your old thought patterns lies the universal human fear that we are not living our lives as fully or as meaningfully as we would like, and that time is passing by ever more quickly. Practice facing that fear with the support of other people – there is a world of books and music and movies and spiritual groups that offer perspectives on death and dying and meaning.
Then, in the moments when you notice yourself being taken over by old thoughts, refocus your mind on answering the question – “what is the driving purpose, or purposes, in my present life, and what can I do, in this moment, to honor my purpose?”
Do not expect yourself to know the answer right away. If you have been caught for most of your life in internal debates about whether you are a success or a failure, accepted or an outcast, good or bad, you have had little room to ponder about the deeper questions of life purpose.
Let yourself explore what is really important to you. Perhaps you want to be kind to yourself and to the people you care about. Perhaps you want to help people behave more responsibly toward other people or the earth. Perhaps you want to have fun and enjoy the pleasures of life, and help others enjoy these pleasures.
Then, remind yourself that “whether or not I feel accepted, I can enjoy the smell of the pine trees on my block. Whether or not I feel like a success, I can smile with kindness at a helpful grocery checkout worker. Whether or not I feel hopeful, I can show up for my volunteer time at the Humane Society. Whether or not I feel like a good person, I can take a relaxing bath at the end of the day.”
Get professional help to work on all of this if you are not having success doing it on your own. Often we need support to learn how to pull ourselves out from the darkness, to safely move through the intense emotions that come along with our old thoughts, to figure out what we really care about, and to learn how to make choices that help us to live our lives in a meaningful way.
Just like winter and cold dark days, our old stuff will keep coming around. But, as you practice facing the deeper fears and focusing on your life purpose, this stuff loses its power to take over your life. You can learn to look the darkness in the face and say “Bring it on. I have more important things to do.”
– Danielle B. Klotzkin, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, provides psychotherapy for clients who are looking for a way to move forward through relationship issues, problems with alcohol, drugs, or managing money, eating and body issues, trauma, grief and loss, depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. Contact her at (530) 470-2233 or truckeecounseling.com.
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