Ever asked yourself, “How Will I Get Through Christmas Without Over-Eating, Over-Drinking, Over-TV-Watching … And Then Feeling Crap About Myself?”
I have a typical negative thought-process which I sometimes get into with habits I’m trying to change. It goes: What will happen this time? … Will I end up back in the same negative behaviours I’ve been in in the past? Will this lead to harsh self-talk and feeling like I’ve failed?
I’m grateful to say that it now find it takes me about 10 seconds to feel better when I get into this type of anxious mind-tangle. I’ll describe what I do to get free in a moment, but first I’m going to give some context…
I have the great fortune in life to work as guide and companion to those of us who avoid our feelings, life, challenges, and our own creative potential through addictive or compulsive cycles we can’t seem to escape … I facilitate the creation of new pathways for freedom and thriving, even when stuckness has become our familiar.
What I’ve found in my own recovery, and what I’ve witnessed in others’, is that sometimes we seem to have our addictive tendencies under control, and sometimes (perhaps particularly at Christmas), we don’t.
Right now, reading this, we may feel we’re in a relatively good place: controlling ourselves, slim, fit and productive, and on top of things – disciplined in what we choose to eat, drink, and do with our time.
With the approach of Christmas, anxiety can set in. Parts of us understandably start to get fearful at the uncertainty of how we will behave. What will we choose to ingest, and how much of it? Will we be impulsive, and go against vows we’ve made to abstain from certain foods or drinks? Will we go to extremes and even go on a bender that’ll end up in weight-gain, a hang-over, fatigue and achiness, and a sense of self-hatred and regret?
Questions like these may be coming from memories of Christmases past: times when people around us were eating and drinking whatever they wanted whenever they wanted… times when it was so easy to say, “Oh, what the hell…”, and go with this fun, pleasurable and indulgent flow…
The anxiety parts of us may have about Christmas-coming make sense to me … Because such a “flow” may have lead in the past to a loss of control they don’t like, and later to harsh self-criticism that results in shame and feeling depressed in our bodies and minds. And this all at a time of year that’s already tough: a time when (here in the Northern Hemisphere) there is less sunlight and less sun-heat to cheer us up and bring energy to our lives.
As well as the anxiety, are there parts of us that are beginning to get excited as Christmas approaches? The parts of us that love to alter our reality through feeling high or stoned on food and drink – in a bubble? These parts of us can get activated around about now by anticipation of this once-a-year-worldwide-permission-given-opportunity to binge.
Anxiety and excitement … two emotions about Christmas that may be coming from two separate parts of us with very opposite views on how Christmas should unfold for us …
I find that when there are two parts of me with opposite views on the path I should walk, I get real tense: stuck even. I also find that it takes me about 10 seconds to feel free again.
This 10-sec-method is a brief version of Freedom Steps 1 and 2 rolled-into-one. The Freedom Steps is a process I’ve created that combines 12 Step Recovery, Internal Family Systems, and embodied mindfulness, for lasting freedom from any addiction.
I myself have used the Freedom Steps to heal my addiction to control and perfection in my own life, so that I can relax and open to the beauty, abundance, and love that’s here. The Freedom Steps have helped a great many people I work with to recover from their own addictive processes, and to find joy naturally and easily.
So, back to that mini-10-sec-version of Steps1-&-2…
First, I give up. For me that means letting go any tension I notice in my body as I consider my future (or the past I don’t want to repeat). I allow myself to sort of soften in my body in that moment… for me this often involves the shoulders, jaw and neck: they go real soft.
Then I gently consider: Where is my thinking coming from? Is it just coming from my head, or does it include my whole body? In asking this question, I experience a new, non-addictive type of thinking: thinking that spreads out, expands, and includes all parts of me, and softens the fight from the inside out.
I find that the polarity can soften and I can return to my Self … at least for a moment or two. I may need to repeat this whenever the tension returns.
Just like in Step 1 courtesy of the 12 Steps of AA, “admitting to powerlessness” doesn’t feel safe, effective, or any fun at all, unless we simultaneously connect with certain qualities available to us within and without.
Freedom Steps 1 and 2 help us do so. Through them, we become receptive to inner and outer support, we become open to inspiration, and we trust that guidance will come to us when we need it, in simple moment-by-moment steps.
Our moment of letting-go changes our whole perspective of the future. We can remember there’s a wellspring of peace available to us in any future moment too, as it is there for us now.
If parts of you disagree about what kind of Christmas they’d like you to have, know that you are not alone in this inner-conflict. It can take up vast amounts of energy and headspace through your holiday and isolate you from loved ones and from feeling calm before, during, and after your choices get made. I remember this from my own personal past experience: my own “ghosts of Christmases past”.
You’re not alone.
Please feel free to watch the video above and respond in the comment box below. I believe being honest and open with ourselves and those that understand and accept us through Christmas is the most precious gift we can ever receive.