Holiday Part 1 (Counseling)


Ahh…the holidays…

Even just hearing the word “Christmas” is bound to bring up all kinds of emotions for lots of different reasons.  Anxiety due to unrealistic expectations of “making the season bright” (read: perfect), stress of extra financial burdens, depression due to loneliness or loss at the supposed “happiest time of the year,” perhapseven some anger or hurt  as we are surrounded by family members who push our buttons or bring up a painful past.  There may even be the occasional and surprising tinge of excitement as you envision a brand new year.

Not Alone…

Whatever emotions you are feeling, I want to encourage you that you are NOT ALONE.  I am amazed by my own tendency to fall hard into the Holiday Blues each year despite “knowing all the stuff” that we talk about in therapy.  Last night as I lay in bed wide awake at 2am, I was reminded of so many goals that have yet to be met, all of the dreams that are still just dreams, so many people that I love and long to connect with…and probably won’t for whatever reason, the family members I care about but am estranged from, not to mention the fact that I have bought a total of Zero (0) gifts.  And so the treadmill runs.

Still Worthy?  Yes…

If you have worked with me in a counseling setting, you probably know that I am a huge Brene Brown fan. If you have not read her work, run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of The Gifts of Imperfection now!  Absolutely brilliant and life giving work…

She gives voice (and lots of research) to the core human need for Connection and the efforts of her conniving  stepsister,  Shame (think  Cinderella’s… Drizella or Anastasia…whichever you disliked most).  Shame feeds us the lie that we are not enough and in fact, unworthy of love and connection.  Shame tries to dupe us into thinking that, if we make the grade,  earn the salary, have the relationship, wear the dress size, then we are worthy of love and acceptance.  Expectations at Christmas tend  to hold up a big megaphoneto that voice of shame. But  underneath the guise and glitter of the season, what I want more than anything is to be truly known, accepted, heard and loved…right where I am.  Stuff is fine, joy is better.

I am a firm believer that we grow, heal, and thrive in relationship.  Relationship with self, others, God, nature, kids, pets, musical instruments …you name it!  The invitation is always there to reach out for connection, tethered to the belief, albeit flimsy, that we are more than enough and are worthy of this connection.  It is our right as human beings.

Friends, I urge you (and me!) this holiday season, to finish strong.  To allow what  comes along in these days ahead to point you towards the Gift of Presence, that invitation to the here and now.  It is real and beautiful and full of possibility.  Resist the temptation to judge it and live elsewhere, like tomorrow or the next day.  You offer such a rich and unique glow  to this world and the people around you…don’t hide in the shadows and wait until it passes …we need your light! I know I have undoubtedly been touched by it.

With Love and Gratitude,


Katie GustafsonComment