What do you think about the phrase “Self-Compassionate Christmas”? Does it sound like an oxymoron? I know it sounds strange – after all, the holiday season is traditionally the season of giving; a time when people demonstrate great generosity and compassion for others. I’m not suggesting that we throw all of those lovely giving traditions aside – I just wonder if we could put our own health and well-being on our list of things to do this year.
We can start by tuning into how we are feeling right now. Can you take a moment to check in with yourself? Ask yourself if you are feeling anxious or like you are under pressure over the holiday “to do” list. The presents to buy, the decorating, the food and the expectation that you will see every one of your friends and family within a four week time span (really daunting for those of us who are introverts) – it can all seem like just too much. If you notice that you are feeling stressed and pressured, perhaps this is a good time to implement some self-compassionate strategies.
There are two sides to Self-Compassion – the Yin and the Yang – and we need both in equal measures to truly feel equanimous in times of stress. Today I thought we might explore using our Yang Self-Compassion. While Yin compassion is soothing and nurturing, Yang is more motivating and action oriented. Yang compassion allows us to see and feel our own “inner truth”, what we value and our
knowledge about what we really need to be healthy. Yang self-compassion motivates us to be self-protective when we are getting pushed (or are pushing ourselves) to do the things that aren’t good for us. It can help us to set boundaries and take protective measures to conserve our time and energy. In short, Yang self-compassion empowers us to say “NO”!
So, getting back to that “to do” list. How could you make any one of the things on your list a little bit easier and align more fully with your priorities or values? What if you could limit your time (and plan an escape route) to 30 minutes while visiting with a friend or relative who is always so negative and critical? Could you say “No thank you” to one of the parties that are back to back on Christmas Eve? Could you schedule one afternoon or full day doing exactly what you would like to do with your nearest and dearest during the holidays? Could you honour your own spirit by starting a ritual that would really nurture your soul this holiday?
So I invite you to try tapping into the wisdom of Yang Self-compassion this holiday season. Let’s try to experiment with saying “no” to unreasonable expectations and the over-scheduling of social events that make us feel physically exhausted and emotionally deflated. And if you decide to give our experiment a try, I’d love to hear back from you about the results.
Happy Holidays, Patricia