CHANGING THE FACE OF THE HOLIDAYS
We all like to portray that we’re having a great experience during the holidays, sharing pictures on social media with everyone filled with joy. But what if for some of us, that is not the reality at this time of year?
One thing that may be difficult to do, but can be very empowering, is to be a little more vulnerable in our social media circles. If you feel it is appropriate, you might put out a call to your friends and say, “Hey, I am having a bit of a hard time—could you guys reach out to me this season and show me a little love?” I have long shared that advice with people around the holidays and it is more relevant this year than ever before.
This may seem like a scary thing to do, and each person has to examine their own social media group to evaluate whether that is appropriate, but it does create an opportunity for other people to recognize that, “Wow, I’m not alone in having a hard time; my friend is having difficulties, too, and maybe we should connect for coffee.” Well, the “coffee” thing is a little more challenging in these times, but you might connect one-on-one through Zoom, or on a masked, socially distanced hike, just to talk about the challenges you’re facing and build that deeper level of two-way support.
One of the hardest things to do is confide in people that you’re having a hard time. As Brené Brown consistently highlights, my example above with social media is a big way to do that, but it can also be done in smaller ways; just picking up the phone and reaching out to a friend is a big step.
With my patients I have always expressed the importance of scheduling phone dates throughout the holidays. Again, with everything we’re going through now, this may be even more crucial—not just for you, but perhaps for someone you know who is not willing to take that first scary step of creating a holiday connection. When you schedule these virtual dates, you know that wherever you are on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., you’re going to pick up the phone and either call or FaceTime/WhatsApp or Zoom that person. Just knowing that is on the schedule, and that you and the other person are committed to it, can alleviate the pressure of going through your difficulties alone and deepen your connectedness.