Unless You Are Single! As a Relationship Coach, I work with many men and women who are going through relationship transitions in their lives.
Whether caused by divorce, death of a loved one, or just a season of change, each Fall, I hear a common thread from my newer clients, “I just don’t know how to face the holidays alone.” Whether on the driving or receiving side of a relationship split, the first holidays often seem unsurmountable.
I hear clients struggle with how they feel about holiday party invitations – should they attend alone, will their friends invite them or their ex, would it be easier just to avoid visiting and avoid questions?
They often express anxiety over having to share the kids on such special days, how it leaves them feeling abandoned, how they are concerned about being upstaged with gifts by their ex, how the expense of the holidays causes its strain.
There is also the general loneliness they anticipate will be exasperated by a season when others are experiencing joy. All of these feelings are real concerns and are rooted in fear of the unknown. Facing any transition in life can be overwhelming, and the holidays are a time when one could have arising feelings of uncertainty.
Let’s explore ways to ease your journey in what may seem like a “not so wonderful time of the year.” Take a realistic approach to the days ahead. It’s natural to mourn over the loss of what used to be, but you will find it easier to move forward when you accept the fact that things will be different.
Don’t just jump ahead and assume all the holidays will be stressful, instead take one holiday or event at a time. Be realistic about the season and separate your feelings from facts. It is effortless to want a picture-perfect Hallmark Movie holiday; however, most people’s experience is far more like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with flaws, failures, and more calamity than calm.
Be realistic that this year will be different, but that difference can be a rewarding experience. Face them with a positive mind-frame and avoid isolation. It’s very easy to avoid social interaction when you are going through a relational transition; however, the holidays are an excellent time to change your mindset.
Focus on the things you have always loved most about the holidays. Keep up those traditions even if it means modifying the way you have done them in the past. Make sure you put up your tree or favorite Menorah. If baking cookies in the past brought you joy, host a cookie exchange, or invite an elderly neighbor to bake with you.
Pass on traditions to your children, and get them involved, explain why these things mean something to you. Avoid doing everything alone by shopping with friends or hosting a wrapping party. Focus on the good that’s happening in your life and marvel in your new independence, cultivating gratitude in your unique experiences.
If applicable, lean on your faith and even explore new traditions from your faith or ancestry. By keeping your focus on the positive things, and staying engaged throughout the holidays, you will be better prepared to handle the bumps when uncertainty surfaces.
You may even find ways to enjoy your new independence in the season. The important thing is to give yourself the gift of community. Focus on eternal things, instead of your situation. It is easy to get caught up by the many changes happening around you.
Don’t dwell on the past but look forward to what new happenings are emerging in your life. Remember the holidays are more about people than they are about things. Try not to allow financial pressures to burden you, instead make a budget and keep within it.
Give of yourself and your time if your resources are not as plentiful. Avoid feeling guilty if you can’t give gifts and find ways to create memories with people, which are more valuable than material items. Be patient with yourself as you work to change your focus away from your situation to others.
Reach out to others and find ways to bring joy into both of your lives. Remember, the greatest gift we can give others is ourselves, which will also fill us with joy. Try to make new traditions with people around you and fill your time.
Some find volunteering fulfilling; others may host a gift exchange with neighbors. Allow yourself happiness. It may seem unnatural to be happy in your circumstances, but it will also build hope for your future.
Use this season to set a new course for your future, permitting yourself to celebrate in ways that bring you joy! I recall one client on her first holiday season alone. Her children were spending Christmas with her ex, and her family was all out of state. Instead of resigning herself to lying in bed all day in misery, she sought others in the same boat.
What she realized was there were quite a few parents she knew in the same boat on Christmas. She offered to host a “Friends without Family” Christmas Dinner. Setting her best china, she asked friends to each bring a dish to share and two identical gifts, one to exchange and one to give.
After their gift exchange and a satisfying meal, the group headed to a nearby city to hand out plates of leftovers and the extra gifts wrapped to the homeless. What could have been a handful of lonely people quickly became a day of cheer and giving?
By focusing on happiness, she was able to bring joy and happiness to not only friends but some unexpected homeless. What stood out to me about this client as she was ready to embrace the season with a realistic approach; she kept a positive outlook avoiding isolation, and she focused on others rather than her circumstances.
Not allowing her situation to overwhelm her, she was able to find happiness in the changes around her. In many ways, the most important lesson is to gift yourself the permission to be happy in the most beautiful time of the year! Christine Olsen, Info@settlemedown.com SMD Life Coaching Christine is a Certified Life Coach with nearly ten years of experience.
She is deemed an expert in Transitional Coaching, specializing in relationship, divorce, and hospice coaching. Transitional coaching involves helping clients recognize and navigate change taking place in their lives. Whether the change is by choice or circumstantial, Christine helps clients deal with difficult situations and emotions, while providing navigational tools to thrive in the conditions you face.