Christmas is for Presence

By Ken Wells - 12/25/2021


Series Two: Blog Ninety-One

Are you in the Christmas spirit? In late October, the holiday spirit begins to build. Stores begin to feature Christmas trees, decorations and by the first week of November, emphasis on Christmas gifts are front lined in every retail store. For sure anticipation of the coming days become the spirit itself. The actual experience of Christmas is a letdown by comparison to building anticipation of the day itself. There’s a certain magical fantasy that overtakes the culture and provides an escape from reality. Parades, plays, parties and religious ceremonies capture the imagination of many.

The holiday comes at the end of the year. Businesses close their books on the year at this time with a frenzy of work and a push for completion. Some families go overboard with gifts, pageantry and elaborate festivities. Most people get caught up with it all even though some of the rituals become commercialized and trite.

It is common for people to focus on the anticipation of a future experience to gratify whatever the current encounter might be during the present moment. Sports fans anticipate a weekend of college or professional football. Some people make an entire day’s event of one football game with extensive and elaborate tailgate parties before the game. Others listen to the analysis of how the game was played for many hours afterward. For many, the anticipation of sporting events becomes a crucial part of life that gets them through present challenges around family, work and moments of boredom. Holidays simply offer another layer of intrigue in the experience of escape from the here and now.

For addicts, holidays are frequently problematic. They trigger remorse, memories of past trauma and realities of relationship struggle. Holidays can be shaped with meaningfulness.

Here are a few suggestions for this holiday:

Stalk the shame.  As an addict you are both fragile and tough. Holidays trigger shameful experiences perpetrated toward you and those you have inflicted upon others. To protect the fragile part of self it is important to exercise self-empowerment by putting the shame on past behaviors and not on your sense of self. You can do this through practicing the embrace of positive affirmations and acting upon positive self-belief.  This will take conditioning and practice. You are not the destructive behaviors you committed and though you were powerless in past experiences of abuse, you are not incapable of self-protection now. So, stalk the shame by directing the harmful message to the hurtful behavior and acting upon the belief of a positive destiny regardless of how you feel.

Make the holidays a time of reflection and assessment.  It’s winter and a time for plant life to be dormant in areas of the country that experience the four seasons. From dormancy, plant life is resurrected to new life and growth in the spring. During times of dormancy, it is important for you to reflect and assess the meaning of your life and the direction of purpose in recovery. Clarify what sobriety means to you. Reflect on what you need to do to create the serenity you desire. Make this holiday meaningful through evaluations and clarifying your recovery.

Let the Christmas holiday be about presence. Holiday activities create disconnection through the rush of events. Rather than making the moment to be about gifts and presents, practice focusing on being present in the moment to yourself and surroundings. When it is all said and done, it is not where you are going that is important as is being able to connect where you are in the here and now. Being present supersedes gifts, plans and events. Connecting with yourself and being present in the moment is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and others. It’s really the only gift you can truly experience during the holiday.

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