Antidotes to Emptiness  

Holiday perspective

Last year at this time I wrote an article entitled Holiday Depression, addressing the fact that for many people this is a difficult time of year.  Check that article out if you feel it is relevant to your life.

This year I want to address how we can actively have perspective around the holidays.  What do I mean by these two words?

Active: We so often take cultural traditions and ways of doing things as the norm.  We fall into doing things because that is what everyone else is doing.  We become passive members of society, not stepping back to have perspective, actively engaging.

Perspective: This is a process of stepping back to evaluate one’s own way of seeing things.  What is helpful about this is it is something we can change.  It can create problems or it can create new freedoms.  Do you think the man or woman yelling and fighting in a store over the current most popular toy for their child has perspective?  They seem to just be caught up in the mob mentality.

My purpose for this article isn’t to be moralistic about the holidays, although it will end up being that way to some extent.  The holidays are many things to many people and I don’t care to say what it “should” be about.  What I care about is to help us all have perspective.  This is a time of year when people feel lots of pressure to make others happy.  This is a time of year when we might feel different from many other people because we are not close with our family, or don’t have a family.  The holiday season does not have to be just about a traditional family.  The holiday season does not have to be about presents or making lavish meals.  For many people, it is, and this can be a very enjoyable affair.  But it comes back to being more active in how you construct meaning and perspective in your life.

Stepping back and deciding what YOU want the holidays to be about is empowering.  Traditions are powerful and grounding, but also changeable.  How might you be ignoring parts of your self that wants the holidays to be about something else?  Or, how might you want to alter how you and your family celebrates the holidays?

In my work with clients, it can become a real eye opener to step back and look at our perspective and the reality that we can change it.  We have a lot of expectations and learned habits that we can often times buy into like there is no negotiation.  This can be limiting and misery provoking.  Shifting our perspective doesn’t always have to be a major shift, although sometimes a small shift feels major, but it can be a simple adjustment to one’s expectations, to one’s plans, to one’s expression of self, family, and community through a time of year that is culturally carved out for numerous values, traditions, and expectations.

Listen to your self and notice if you are ignoring an aspect of how you would like the holiday season to be experienced.  What do you want?  What are others around you wanting?  When we listen more to some of our subtle desires for change, we then have more of an ability to give to others.  This time of year tends to be about giving, or at least in some form it is “supposed to be.”  It is easier to give when you have something to give, when you are also honoring your self.  Maybe you want the holidays to be MORE about giving in your home and it feels impossible to do so when all around you it feels more about getting stuff.  Again, I’m not attempting to be moralistic because there is nothing “wrong” with stuff, getting stuff, buying stuff.  What matters most to me is that we are all being active in our lives, in our families, to create the type of meaning and holiday season that we want.  You might not change what the rest of your family wants, but your shift in perspective might be the very thing you need to have a better holiday experience.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Jason is a counsellor, psychotherapist, and life coach in private practice. He is a Certified Canadian Counselor (CCC) with the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association. Jason has a Master of Arts degree in Psychology with a Marriage and Family Therapy Specialization. Jason's training prepared him to work with individuals, couples and families. Jason believes strongly in helping clients to remove the obstacles that get in their way so they may embrace and accept who they are, utilizing their own resources.

For the past 5 years Jason has worked with people struggling with addictions. He has gained new insights and perspectives into this problem and is always learning about this phenomenon. Jason's passion for writing and researching addiction treatment philosophy has led him to a more grounded and humanistic approach to the treatment of addictions.

In his practice, Jason helps his clients change, grow and search. He is still working with addictions but also works with other issues such as anxiety/stress, finding meaning and purpose, depth work and couples therapy. Please see his website for more information. In addition to his private practice, Jason also facilitates groups for court mandated clients in the Relationship Violence Program and the Responsible Drivers Program. Lastly, Jason co-facilitates the Parenting After Separation Course through the Kelowna Family Centre.

For more information on Jason's services, visit his website at www.jasonmccarty.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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