Monday, December 3, 2007

The Holidays are Upon Us

To all:

The holiday season can be a tough season. It's often full of family, food, and obsessive behavior. I'm writing this to let you know I understand. The holidays can make you squirm and wake up full of dread each morning. But you know what?

They're not supposed to. That's not what the holidays are all about.

They're about a thousand things and none of those things should be negative or unhealthy or depressing. The question is: how do you get yourself into the right mindset?

You have to psych yourself up for it. You have to be positive and remain positive despite all the negativity you might feel closing in on you. You have to worry about YOU and not about others. I know it's hard--many times those "others" are your family or your close friends and you feel conflicted or manipulated or overwhelmed. Those feelings are okay and completely natural. All feelings are--because they're what you FEEL and they are honest. But you've got to do what's best for yourself and sometimes that means thinking only of yourself at a given point in time.

I know it might sound strange--me telling you to think of yourself during the holidays, when everything else out there promotes goodwill toward the less fortunate and giving to others besides yourself--but you have to consider that if you are first good to yourself, you will much more easily be able to be good to others. You have to start with yourself and go from there. It sounds so simple and so difficult at the same time, doesn't it?

I once had an aunt comment on what I was eating at a family holiday dinner. I had put some things on my plate and had handed it to her so she could add something to it that was nearest to her. "That's not YOUR plate, is it?" she'd said.

I just looked at her.

"I mean, you don't eat all that, do you?" she asked.

It didn't matter why she said it or what she meant by it. It was too late; the damage had been done. She'd gotten the message from my silence that I was shocked she'd say such a thing to me (for at the time, I was very very thin), but when my plate was handed back to me I didn't feel like eating. I'm sure she had no idea what she'd done to me with that short conversation. But there was a lot wrong with that conversation.

For one, she'd drawn attention to my eating. Second, she'd commented on the amount. Third, she was clearly surprised which made me question myself and what I was ready to eat.

In short, that small incident completely ruined my day. And if I'd had the right mindset at the time, it wouldn't have. Now, I know there are situations you will all deal with over the holidays that will be worse than that...or even less severe than that...that will irk you, upset you, and make you miserable. This was just an example. The point is: don't let it upset you.

As usual, it's easier said than done. But all you have to do is TRY. Just try. When something upsetting happens, or you see or hear or feel something that triggers you to do whatever self-destructive or eating disordered behavior you typically fall back on, DON'T DO IT. Don't let it get the better of you. Don't give in to pain and sadness and frustration. Use your anger or your emotions to build yourself up. Do what's healthy and what is good for you. Be good to yourself. Think of yourself. Don't think of someone else's comments or the way someone else looks. Don't think of all the food and how you shouldn't eat it. Don't think of the obsessive behaviors that may have become natural to you. Think of you and the child you once were that is still a part of you. And give her/him what she/he wants. You are allowed to indulge. You are allowed to nurture. You are allowed to FEEL GOOD. You are allowed to BE HAPPY.


Write a note to yourself. A short one, a long one, a sentence, a few words, or whatever you want. But write a note to yourself that is positive, that quickly reiterates that you can get through things. Maybe it will say: YOU CAN DO IT! YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT FOR! Or maybe it will simply say: IT'S OKAY. But whatever it is, write it. To yourself. On an actual piece of paper. And keep it. And put it in your coat pocket, or your purse, or your wallet, or something you almost always have with you. And when you're dealing with some holiday stress or you're feeling overwhelmed, take it out briefly and look at it. Reassure yourself. You will thank yourself later. Maybe later that day. Maybe later that month. Maybe later that year. Or maybe even years from now. But you will thank yourself.

Do you really want to have miserable holiday season? Or one filled with grief, obsessing, nervousness, anxiety, pain, etc? Of course you don't. And you don't deserve to. You deserve all the good things the holidays can bring. I know you can't get rid of all those bad feelings and behaviors in one day--or in one holiday season. But you can START.

Start now. Start with THIS holiday.

Best of luck to you all. You can do it!



Emily Jolie said...

I love the reminder to think of yourself as that little child that was perfect. I like to apply the 'inner child visualization' not only to myself, but to others, as well. You can gain a lot of compassion - both for yourself and others - that way! I was reminded of it yesterday when I watched a TV show with a 'bad person.' Anyone would have obviously been disgusted about this guy and his behaviors. Then we saw a scene about his childhood and how he was abused by his father and his mother had left him. Although it didn't make his actions any less cruel, it still opened up some compassion towards him, as it revealed the deep inner hurt he was carrying within himself.

I'm sorry you had to deal with your aunt's comment. Sometimes people really ought to think more before they speak, but I'm sure we've all been guilty on saying something inappropriate on impulse. I'm so glad you've turned it into a lesson and are creating a lesson for others out of it, as well!

much love to you, sweet Arielle,


Sarah said...

GREAT post, Arielle, absolutely great.

I love the idea of writing myself a note! I am going to do that -- and copy it onto my bathroom mirror with a dry-erase marker!


Emily Jolie said...

Oops, that was supposed to say guitly of, not on!

Arielle said...

Thanks, ej! Glad you liked the post! :)

Much love,

Arielle said...

Glad you like the idea, Sarah! So happy to hear you actually want to do it! Much love to you,