I have a client who has despised Christmas for years and years now. He is older than I am, and this has been going on for a while. When the holiday season rolls around each year, he circles January 1 on his calendar and just tries to make it until then. And then the countdown is on again. Not a good way to live. I’m so happy he came in, because it only took one conversation to change this. Feel the power, people!! Change can happen, and it’s all about how you think and how you see things. And this takes gentle practice, that’s all.
My client didn’t like the holiday season for two reasons. And yes, it’s past tense now – “didn’t” as opposed to “doesn’t” (after stopping and thinking about it objectively and openly for less than an hour – it’s amazing that’s even possible!). The first reason is that it reminds him of loved who are no longer here. He has memories of really awesome times with a couple of family members who have passed away. He remembers laughing a lot and just having fun. He loved them a lot, and he looked forward to the times such as the holidays that would bring them together. And they are not here anymore. And there’s nothing that can be done about that.
I suggested that he use this as a time each year to remember them and enjoy those good memories. The fact is their bodies have died. Much of this work is about pretty hardcore acceptance of what is. If you look really closely at your life, you might notice that most of your pain is caused by not accepting what has already happened. You don’t have to like it, but you have to accept it. Why? Because it has already happened. Let me know when we have a time machine, and I’ll gladly revise this policy. Until then, though, to not accept something that has already happened is like believing 1 + 1 = 3 and then hoping this doesn’t screw up your calculations. Preview: the new science I’ll be talking about coming up has some astonishing implications about time. It might not be as etched in stone as you might think. Okay, it’s not at all as etched in stone as we think. More on that later. We still have to accept the stuff that has already happened, though…
It’s not fun to accept that our loved ones have died, but if the deed is done then screw it – let’s go with it. If I’m reminded of them each year, then I might as well use this reminder to honor them and remember the good times. Close your eyes and just go back in time, and it should bring a smile to your face. And when sadness comes up, allow that to be there as well but with no commentary saying it’s bad. It’s normal, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Keep enjoying those good memories, though. Feel the love that will always be there if you really look. And I think you’ll find that over time, the sadness will be less and less acute and you’ll still have those good memories and the love that’s behind them.
The other thing he has not liked about the holidays is that they remind him of past “failures.” I put that in quotes because whenever someone talks about a failure, there’s usually a pretty obvious reframe that can happen. The simple fact is that there’s no authority out there saying that what happened was a “failure.” If so, please let me know of this authority. That’s an opinion, and we all know what they say about opinions. One of his perceived failures involved staying in the military a while back (which he did not). I told him the old Taoist parable called “who knows what is good or bad.” Read it! It’s very brief. I pointed out that he could easily be dead now or even paralyzed had he stayed in. We have literally no idea, so let’s not judge leaving the military as a failure. Is he qualified to make that call? Upon close inspection, hells no! When you know the future and what’s best for all involved, let me know. Then I asked if he would’ve met his decades-long wife had he stayed in. He said the odds would’ve been about zero. Zero. So we have that as well. Of course, we know by now that if we’re going to meet, we’re going to meet. It’s as simple as that. But part of their meeting probably involved his leaving the military. It was part of the plan.
Do you see how we’re looking at things more clearly and objectively? To say that leaving the military, and that’s just one example, is a failure is ridiculous when we step outside of ourselves and really look. But we have to step outside of ourselves and really look. Most people don’t do this, so another person can help. I’m saying why not also learn how to do it yourself? I’m learning, and it works better and better all the time with practice. So I’m not buying the whole “failure” thing. Again, we are simply not qualified to judge. It really is as simple as that. It’s very important to start to see this, because we do it all the time and it causes pain. Thinking we are qualified to judge is nothing more than a very old habit. It’s just a pattern, so it really is no big deal. It just takes practice gently busting it and letting it go.
I’m very happy to share this Christmas story with you, especially since it has some common themes. We’ve all lost loved ones, and we all have some perceived “failures.” This story shows the power of how you see things. And taking an clear, objective look is the first step. Step outside of yourself when you do this. My client doesn’t despise Christmas for the first time in many years. He still might not love it, or he might, but circling January 1 on the calendar and trying to merely survive until then is not the ideal way to live! Screw surviving – we can do so much better! It’s our birthright, in fact, regardless of age, race, religion, gender, and all that. He has learned this now, and it didn’t even take very long. I just love this work… All the best to you, and as always, let me know if I can help!