• jennagosta m.d.

Balance through the Holidays

The Holidays are on their way in … and they include some of our favorite things, and - yes, for some, some of the most challenging things.

Food, family, and finances are up there — these can all be both general stressors, and big features of the Holidays.

So the potential for getting our buttons pushed, feeling overstretched, over-pressured, and overstuffed can be higher than ever at this time of year.

Along with “too much,” this is a time of year where “not enough” can also make itself painfully felt.

While there may be too much food, family, and friends, there may be not enough money, time, energy, personal space.

Or there may be someone missing this year, for the first time, or an older loss that may be especially tough at this turn of the calendar.

So how to handle?

One thing we can all do is be gentle with ourselves.

When you can, anticipate a need for some down-time, a bit of personal time. Leave yourself time for breath, for space.

When you can, anticipate your buttons (pecan pie? your mother-in-law? both?), and choose how you might like to manage those potential scenarios.

Having a strategy for things we know may knock us balance goes a long way toward keeping us in balance…and we can adjust a little but more easily when those things come our way.

Actually, just identifying our buttons and potential challenges does us a lot of good - a lot.

Knowing our edges allows us to stay better grounded, more comfortable in the moment.

We also give ourselves an opportunity to acknowledge “our stuff.”

This may seem too simple -“I know what my deal is!”- but it is hugely important for our well-being. It is so important that these parts of us be heard. Even if we’re the only ones hearing. What a relief to not have to spend all that energy holding the doors closed….

In acknowledging our buttons and our challenges, we also end up with a “Work List.”

A “Work List?” Yup - a list of items that becomes a “Healing To Do” list.

Whenever we can recognize our buttons, our triggers, all the things that bend us out of shape and push us to overreact, we have identified old material that needs some attention — after the Holidays!

The old material is often a pile (small or large) of pieces of old events and experiences that maybe we have not fully processed and closed… This happens especially when such experiences were disturbing, were associated with rage, fear, shame, guilt. Eek. Finances, family, food ....

The pieces of the old can still be jangling around inside -unfortunately. It happens, it’s the way the brain works. And this usually means that there is a file in the emotional brain that is still open - whether we are aware of it or not.

And whether we are aware of it or not, that open file can drive a lot of our behaviors, reactions, and emotions. And these responses may be out of proportion to the situation.

Maybe we become overly anxious, overly irritable; we may overeat, argue overmuch. It’s that “out of proportion” quality that lets us know we know that we may have some old material needing attention.

It is possible to close the open files in the emotional brain. We know this now from neurobiological data, and work done on trauma memories. Even if there has been no specific trauma event in our lives, we may have other kinds of long-standing “imprints” that get in the way of our processing the present cleanly and clearly.

This work of processing old and outstanding events and finally closing those for ourselves is the work of memory reconsolidation. This is very similar to what used to be called Regression Work. It is part of what we do in Voice-Guided Vision Work. For more info on this, check out earlier posts (or at least the first one).

So, as challenging as the Holidays can be, there are two pieces of good news here.

The first is that just by remembering, recognizing, ahead of time where the challenges may come, we can stay that much more in balance….

And the second is that we may be able to observe some of the things we’d like to work on in the time to come.

So, go gently with yourself, and just notice what the Holidays bring to your attention.

One day that just could be something to be grateful for….

Happy Holidays, Go Gentle, and Welcome to Voice-Guided Vision Work !

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