This is the time of year most of us face the very real chance of being naked. We fight every day not to be naked. Not to be found out or to be seen, but it’s the holidays and we are on high alert because we are seeing family. If there is anything that can make you feel naked it is a family gathering.
Those old wounds that have been pushed down start to fester. The unrealized dreams haunt you with relentless fervor. The grief of unresolved loss catches you off guard and sends you right back to a time you so desperately want to forget. It can only take a glance, a familiar intersection, a weathered ornament, a tradition, a song, a dessert.…and you are naked.
It’s amazing how quickly old patterns and familiar roles can push us right back into feeling like a child again. We all long to be free of those devastating reminders that have reeked havoc in our relationships, our self confidence and our ability to be ourselves in our adult lives. At our core we all long to be free of blame, comparison, past failures, mistakes and pain. We long to be accepted for who we are, apart from what we have or haven’t done and what was done or not done to us.
Holidays can be like mine fields that trigger shame and anger so we amp up the shields and armor to avoid the explosions of the heart that bring back all those nasty wounds. Most of the year that armor works, but not now.
The challenge of this time of year is the reminder of pain of some kind. To make it worse we are bombarded with images of happy families that remind us that ours isn’t picture perfect. We all have our fair share of pain and the holidays irritate it like no other time of the year. You can feel the heightened panic in the air as each of us in our own way struggles to deal with it all.
This is a great time of year to make an account of where you really are. How have you grown this year? The holidays are a great time to strip down and take a look.
Have you moved into a more compassionate place towards yourself this last year? Where have you given grace to YOU? How has gratitude made a difference in your life this year?
To prepare for the encounters that can push your buttons, I encourage you to notice when you feel the anxiety building up and take a good look at what you are holding on to. What are you carrying around with you that needs to be set down so you can be free of it. Letting go of that painful event or the long term feeling of shame or unmet needs is a process and right now is a perfect time to start practicing this life changing habit. If you continue to hold on, your past defines who you are and as you carry it through life it has devastating effects on you. Understand this is a process and any movement you can make in the direction of accepting something you cannot change, you usher in a new way of being and ultimately your freedom.
Remember none of us are where we want to be. Even if you are doing great and love your life, somewhere inside you look forward to having more, doing more and being more. Everything around you is coded for expansion so there is always more.
It is the utter vulnerability of family that triggers you. The expectations that they “should” be a certain way or do a certain thing. That your time together “should” go a certain way. That traditions “should” be followed a certain way. That everyone “should” fall back into their role of family dynamics in order to replay the family story the way it was set up. But you have changed. They have changed.
The biggest gift you can give this holiday season is acceptance. Acceptance is the key to freedom and you can begin this season of giving by offering that to yourself. Acceptance. Imagine how life would be if you accepted yourself just like you are. As vulnerable as it feels, accepting yourself with your imperfections, no matter what they are is the best present you can ever give and get. It is a vulnerable place but as you accept yourself, you can stand in the middle of the mine fields and begin to redress yourself with dignity, integrity, truth and love. At first you can feel like a fraud but continued practice of what is true about you will change your mind. It’s up to you to start this and humbly accept yourself 100%.
Having an expectation that others “should” accept you as you are, even your family, can lead to painful experiences. Full acceptance of who you are gives you the self confidence to own YOU free of guilt or shame.
Acceptance is vulnerable. It strips you naked of the layers of padding you carry to survive. What is that padding costing you? You may have survived but are you free? Free of the effects of the past? If not, you will continue to be in the mine field naked and vulnerable using energy meant for other things in life like healthy relationships and happiness.
Life is vulnerable. Faith is vulnerable. There are so many things we cannot change no matter how long we carry them with us. Vulnerable acceptance is the birthplace of freedom from the injustices of life. It may not be fair but it is what it is and carrying it around will not change it. The only way to change it is to let it go.
Lighten your load this holiday by bravely risking acceptance, forgiveness, compassion and release. Then you can truly be free, standing in your own truth and choosing what best fits you instead of carrying armor that cuts off the good as well as the bad.
It doesn’t feel good to be naked but it is a good place to be in your journey to wholeness and peace. It means you are at a place that you can see what is really real and going on inside you and make different choices.
Be brave, be kind to yourself and extend grace to YOU before anyone else. That may seem backwards but there is no way to give anything to another person if you are not willing to give it to yourself. If you cannot love and accept yourself you cannot fully love and accept others. You may be able to do it for a while, but eventually your well will run dry no matter how good it is and how hard you try. Accepting that you are valuable today, right where you are, just as you are, is critical for you. No one can take that away from you unless you let them.
You came here to shine…to BE your magnificent self. Sometimes the hardest place to do that is with those you have the hardest time hiding from. Your family. Don’t hide anymore. Make this holiday a time to accept yourself right where you are. When you accept and love yourself you have a much better chance of others doing the same. They may not always accept you back and yet, isn’t it better to be free to be you than having to defend and prove yourself over and over? Even if your family doesn’t give you the gift of value, it is up to you to be willing to accept it as it is there for you to embrace. It’s a bold choice. Yes, it is vulnerable AND the doorway to freedom and happiness.
Happy Holidays and much love, Cindy