Embracing all the emotions of the holidays

The holiday season can be emotional for many of us, and not just the happiness and joy TV commercials are soaked in.

Some people feel the grief and loss of departed loved ones.

Others feel sadness and loneliness, maybe because they don’t have a close relationship with family or a partner or because they’re far away.

It could be anxiety about money, stress about too much to do or worry about talking politics with that relative …

John and I finally watched Inside Out, the 2015 Pixar movie about the emotions that live inside our heads. I’ll assume that since it’s been out two years, you won’t be crushed by this small spoiler: Emotions come to understand they all have an important role to play.

Inside Out isn’t the first Pixar movie to reduce me to tears — I think just watching the trailer for Up would probably get me weepy again — but in particular, seeing a child outgrowing her imaginary friend excavated memories of losing my own long-ago imaginary friend. Funny how mid 40s isn’t as far from childhood as I’d thought.


Earlier this month, I spent a weekend at Mama Gena’s Womanly Arts Experience, a workshop for about 2,500 women where we explored what it means to be a whole, healthy, powerful woman.

One of the most moving segments of the weekend focused on embracing, rather than running from, our dark places — feeling all our emotions, honoring the hurts we’ve experienced, as part of how we become fully ourselves.

Without losing a job, you might not take a leap into a satisfying new career. Without heartbreak, you might not examine what you really need from your next relationship. Without your own childhood pain, you might not empathize with your child’s struggles. Your own challenge might inspire you to help others overcome a similar problem.

I keep reflecting on a visual from the Mama Gena event: Instead of carrying pain like a heavy burden, we can hold hands with it and share our life’s journey with it.

couple walking

This photo by Jason Schlachet used under Creative Commons license.

Inside Out and Mama Gena both gave me timely reminders that the whole range of human emotions is valid. Even at holiday time.

Want to take a break from upbeat Christmas carols to embrace your darkness? Here’s a playlist from Mama Gena.


Categories: health and well being, home and family, lifestyle

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