‘Tis the season (2018 update)

The polarities in this country are indisputable, and there can also be canyons and disputes in families, circles of friends and in the workplace. In spite of the differences and conflicts, the holiday season is here once again, and you have options for how you choose to participate in it or not.

For those of you in recovery, it’s often a challenging time as the broken heartedness of the past can creep into the present tense when you least expect it. You may find yourself regressing when you have additional contact with family, and instead of feeling like a grown adult, you may find yourself feeling or acting like a child. Instead of getting down on yourself, here are a few suggestions:

1. Observe yourself without judgment. Not an easy thing to do in the best of times but more of a challenge during the holidays. Be curious about your “inner critic” (aka your inner Grinch?) and practice acceptance of yourself and others.
2. Be patient with yourself instead of treating yourself with harshness (i.e. give yourself the gift of self-compassion). By accepting yourself fully, you can catch yourself before you go into shame and self-attack and try to replace it with understanding. The Acceptance prayer on page 449 in the Big Book can be a lifesaver and a valuable tool now and always.
3. Be of service to others. The holidays can be either a time of self-centeredness or other-centeredness. By practicing your generosity of spirit, you will automatically feel a sense of belonging and possibly lighter and more buoyant. Volunteer. Be courteous to those less fortunate. Smile or say hello to someone who least expects it.
4. Practice gratitude—both giving and receiving. Look out for the little things–a kind word someone shares, a beautiful sunset, a delicious meal. Savor the moment.

As you lean into gratitude, acceptance and understanding, do your best to notice regrets and resentment without becoming attached to them. It’s up to you how you choose to design this holiday season. In theory, this can be a time of unity and respect for your fellows, and by practicing some of these elements, there is more likelihood that the contagion of “peace on earth and goodwill to all” will flourish one moment and one person at a time.

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