Transforming Holiday Pain into Freedom

The holidays can be a painful time for many people. I want to share something to help transmute that pain into healing and wisdom. I pray reading this blesses your holiday experience.

There are plenty of reasons why holidays feel depressing and trigger painful emotions. We are forced by social convention to spend time with friends and family members that we might otherwise avoid. Many have a painful family history and fear of being judgment and rejection. The prospect of family Thanksgiving or Christmas fills many with dread. Artists, musicians, and spiritual people are particularly likely to be misunderstood in their family sphere, and also particularly likely to be my readers, so let’s prepare for the holidays with transformative perspectives.

Happiness comes from within, from our state of being. An honest look at the state of many rich, beautiful and famous people is ample evidence that you can have everything and still not have peace and love. Harboring the expectation that striving to attain goals like money, jobs or acclaim will fulfill us creates a long unfulfilled path in our lives. If we ever reach the goal of our expectations, we just create another one, a higher carrot to chase. On this path, every advantage we receive is a blessing but every painful thing is a curse with no redeeming potential.

There is another way to look at our journey on this planet. If our goal in life is to cultivate peace, love and wisdom within ourselves, every experience we have becomes a reflection that shows us our inner landscape. Troubling experiences show us where we need to heal. In healing we reclaim the freedom and joy that comes from wholeness, from freeing the dark areas within us where we imprison our fear and pain. It is much easier to work on our unresolved wounds when they are triggered by our present situation. We need those people who remind us of our abuse, disappointment, rejection and judgment to let those wounds pass and reclaim the power and light within us.

If you can commit to facing the holidays with a courageous intent to evolve and heal, you have already eliminated most of the holiday stress. We suffer from our fear and resistance to things more than the thing itself. We can even make ourselves sick as our bodies plot to provide an excuse to avoid what we dread. Take the holidays as an adventure in Spirit and Life. Find your center in a commitment to accept and forgive yourself deeply. The judgments and attitudes of others only hurt because they trigger our own wounds and doubts.

Everyone has those pains and wounds within to some degree. Those who have healed those distortions no longer judge people and put them down, because they have found their heart in the process and their eyes now see beauty at the core of all people. At the core within you, you are Love itself. The Soul Essence, which is the real you, is ever free and untainted by any abuse, pain or emotional wound. It’s just that we’ve unconsciously allowed our minds to invest in an image of ourselves that’s fragile and which accumulates a history of pain. We’ve all made mistakes based on our wounds, reactions, and lack of understanding. It might seem like you are worse off than all the happy people around you, but the inner darkness is everywhere. People put a happy face on themselves but the struggle within endures until it is resolved.

Take strength from the fact that your greatest self is your own Being that is untouched by your personality’s wounds. Forgive your past insecurities within and deeds that you’ve done out of ignorance or pain. Now that you’re determined to see your feelings and heal, you’ve taken responsibility for those things, so there is no need to punish yourself with them anymore. If you let go of punishing yourself, other people will become powerless to make you do it for them. They can only punish you if you cooperate with your negative reaction. Love yourself and other’s judgments become powerless unless they provide helpful feedback. It’s funny that we could be stung by the opinions of those whose opinions we don’t respect anyway. It stings because of our innate insecurities and self doubt.

Your own Being is Love itself fulfilled by nature, but we invest in our self-image which is ever insecure because it’s just an idea we’ve created in our minds. It’s constantly threatened. It’s just a mask. It compares itself with all the masks of other people and fears it is inadequate. Disempower it by realizing that you are really just the witness of its drama. You can observe the show from within without making the story real. If you watched a war movie and really believed the war with it’s mayhem and killing was right there in the theater, it would be terrifying! When you know the drama is outside of your true self, you can watch the action, feel the feelings that come up, and let the experience pass through your system, freeing you from what used to be your nightmare.

Life seems to be random, but it is way beyond our crass view of events. Life is fluid and dreamlike. We are living in a hall of mirrors where the reflections of events and feelings that once wounded us keep revisiting us until we heal them and let them go at the root level. Nothing that happens to you is just bad luck. Look at any repeating patterns in your life and you will see an issue from within yourself that seeks expression until it is resolved. Often a core wound is a pain from our childhood. The key to resolving them is observing and feeling everything within while not latching on to any story we have about it. Let go of chewing on your story and it’s endless reiterations and justifications. By spinning a story around your feelings, you empower your pain, and weave a web to ensnare yourself. Take a step back and just feel it, watch it, as deeply and openly as you can.

Our own awareness has a healing power far beyond our mind’s capacity to understand it. Just as our bodies can heal wounds and build tissue without any understanding of biochemistry in our minds, our consciousness alone can clear the distortions in our emotions without analyzing everything in detail. We have become weak and divided by taking our pain and denying it within. We put our pain in dark places that take up inner space and energy to protect. When we allow the light of our awareness to shine in our dark places, we reclaim our inner space and our pain dissolves in the process.

Once we stop being so defensive and irritated, we often find other people aren’t so triggered to attack us. That doesn’t mean everyone turns into an angel. People are plagued by their own insecurities and wounds. Don’t make them yours needlessly. Have compassion for the pain of others that makes them need to put others down to feel elevated. They are victims of the same disease of ignorance that you’re working on healing.

It is often the case that children feel judged and controlled by parents who wish to vicariously validate themselves through the deeds of their children. The children feel oppressed by the pressure to be something that they don’t wish to be, or just can’t be. If you have felt the pain of this conditional love and judgment, why not renounce doing it yourself? We want to be accepted even though we are a hippy, married the wrong person, didn’t finish school or became a liberal. If we feel that way, shouldn’t we embrace our family members even if they are uptight, narrow minded, and conservative?

Turn everything around. We do most of the things that we find repugnant in others. We judge those whose judgments we fear. Nobody expects a baby to have the correct religion or political views, but everyone loves and accepts that baby, even when it cries. People are at different levels of evolution. What’s important and vital at one level of evolution can seem trivial and lame at another. People need to walk on their own path and it’s folly to expect them to be different than they are because you see it differently. We are all limited in our vision. This world is like a big drunk party where it’s hard to walk straight but many people think they can drive home just fine. It’s the responsibility of the sober person to drive the drunk home. Judging someone rarely helps them see their errors because defensiveness stands in the way. People are most open to help from those who can love and accept them as they are now.

Another side of this manipulation and conditioning we experience in childhood is this: we want to be loved and accepted by our family and society so we invent an idealized self in our mind; a picture of the best and nicest, strongest self that we can imagine. We try to be that. We try to project that. We judge ourselves because we secretly know we fail to measure up to this impossible vision of who we are. This projection of an idealized self is a source of endless unfulfillment . Who you are “here and now” is blessed. Watch yourself struggling with trying to be too special and perfect. Let it go.

We live in a world where our feelings and thoughts create a vibration around us. Most people don’t consciously acknowledge these vibrations but everyone reacts to them. We suffer irritation and judgment in the environment of vibration just as we respond to Love and acceptance. Just because you think that your opinions and grievances are justified and correct doesn’t make those vibrations any less poisonous to yourself and others. Anger breeds anger. You can’t protest war with the energy of war.

With all this in mind, why not make a commitment to face the holidays as a challenging opportunity to evolve and heal, to see what’s left festering within you and to clear it. Be grateful for the difficult people and situations you may face. They are the gifts that help you see clearly what would otherwise remain dim. This doesn’t mean you have to accept or excuse real abuse. Just don’t make it your own or let it control you. Respond from your place of wisdom and self-acceptance, even if it means excusing yourself from the place with respect and understanding.

We are dancing in a hall of mirrors. When you change yourself, everything changes around you. This is a mysterious platitude until you see it manifest in your life. Then it reveals the poetic and magic secret of life. When you have truly observed the wounds and patterns in your life and felt their energy with clarity and openness, those energies eventually stop visiting you in the form of repeated negative events and relationships. You’ll have a loving and clear feeling in your heart and others will respond to those vibrations in wonderful ways.

At first, the same challenges and pains continue to present themselves. You can take this as a test or the final echoes of the old energy. You might lose your composure and get attached to the personal story you’ve invested in. Find your way back to yourself over and over until you know the way home so directly and clear that you can never be lost for long again. Then nothing can really harm you. If pleasant things happen, you can enjoy more fully when you possess the fullness of yourself. If challenging things happen, you can use the opportunity to grow and heal. Welcome it all as an adventure. I have spent much of my life as a technical rock-climber. We often know a serious climb is going to involve pain, danger and fear, but these are a part of the drama and adventure we embrace as part of the experience. Embrace that your emotions are going to feel challenged and the prospect loses it dread.

May you reclaim yourself, your whole self, and offer the very love and acceptance to others that you felt was denied to you. Another great mystery of life is how in giving, we receive. Think of it as a dream where we have become all the characters in our inner world. It’s as if those around us are just different forms of ourselves. They have the same perfect soul obscured within them. How we act towards another sets energy in motion that inexorably returns to ourselves. Whatever you feel like you are lacking in how others treat you, surrender to giving it instead. Don’t take this as a goody two shoes platitude but a real key that releases you from your own prison.

My heart reaches out to you in the prayer that your holiday season may become a magical time of evolution and transformation. By creating the intention to heal and expand your heart, you open a door that grace and love will never fail to enter. This is the law. Seek and you find. Never give up on yourself. You can’t. You are an eternal being and you will endure and flourish no matter how long it takes, even beyond this life. So why not open the doors to what must inevitably be faced and be happy sooner than later? Surrender your resistance and the pain of resistance vanishes. Be the Love that you may have missed and may that Love envelope and nourish you through Life.