Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Make Your Holiday Season More Meaningful

David Winston "Solitude"
Holidays Filled with Love

Use All Your Emotions — Loss, Sadness and Memories, Too — to Make Holiday Season More Meaningful

*Lauren Zander is the co-Founder and Chairman of The Handel Group™, an international corporate consulting and private coaching company.


Sadness is part of life and nothing to hide, says Lauren. “Feeling sad about your loss is healthy and profound,” she says. “It’s a meaningful display of your love.” When people hide their sadness and pretend they aren’t feeling it, the internalized sorrow can lead to serious depression and even illness, says Lauren. Better is to share your feelings and work through them. If you are concerned about bringing others down, Lauren suggests finding an outlet before the festivities begin. Talk to a person or group with whom you are comfortable sharing your deep feelings. Doing so will help smooth the raw edges of your emotions so they aren’t overwhelming. Having processed some of the heaviest ones, you may even be able to focus on positive memories to share during the holiday celebrations.


Directly or indirectly, holidays always focus us on family, the one that is there and the ones that are not. If you are distant from your family, literally or figuratively, you may feel despair and even panic. Holidays tend to generate reflection about your life — often in comparison to those around you. During the holidays, personal struggles may leave you feeling alone, in sharp contrast to the fairytale image of a big family table with happy people beaming at the turkey, á la a Norman Rockwell painting, that you may presume is occurring in “everyone else’s house.”
In order to feel better, you could visit residents of a nursing home, work at a soup kitchen or take food to firefighters, but Lauren points out that it is crucial to spend at least part of a holiday with people to whom you feel connected. Instead of worrying about being left out, Lauren advises speaking up and asking friends if you can join them. People feel good about reaching out to others who might need emotional support — but they don’t always know that support is needed. Also, many people really enjoy adding newcomers to the family/friend mix at a holiday celebration. “Trust me,” says Lauren, “good friends will be delighted to hear you would like to join them for the events they have lavished so much time and thought on.”



Even without personal drama in their lives, people often complain that the holidays have become empty of real meaning. Lauren suggests activities that can add a refreshingly personal depth. Here’s what her family does: Before the Thanksgiving dinner, everyone writes general questions about past holidays on slips of paper to be drawn out and responded to. Possibilities include describing your most memorable Thanksgiving (searching for a turkey dinner in a foreign country, for example) or the worst culinary disaster (the turkey that stubbornly remained half raw after hours in the oven). The next round of questions can go deeper, covering topics such as your most poignant holiday memory. “By engaging in thoughtful activities like these, you can strengthen connections and get in touch with deeper emotions, which will start a tradition that can make all future holidays deeper and more memorable,” says Lauren.

*The Handel Group™ is a global Executive Coaching and Life Coaching company creating personal and professional breakthroughs with clients all over the world. 

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