Practising Compassion at Christmas Time

At Christmas time things can get hectic, it’s hot, shopping becomes crazy, traffic becomes very busy, there are often last-minute things to do and it can all turn into a big stressful event with emotions running high. In the rush of it all it’s easy to forget what it’s all about- compassion, celebration and connection.

Christmas may be the one time in the year that family and friends all get together and catch up. This is often a time of mixed emotions- excitement at seeing everyone, overwhelm at everything that needs to be done and vulnerability, all of us have some form of emotional baggage around family.

For some of us we are confronted with painful relationships at family gatherings, for others it’s the pain of missing loved ones whom have died or having no close family around to celebrate it with. It is a time when family and friends come into focus and this can bring all kinds of feelings to the surface.

Christmas can be a confronting time, when we come back together with our family, it’s amazing how easy it is to slip back into the roles that we played when we all lived under the same roof. We are often challenged to be with family that maybe don’t know us so well anymore and to witness painful old patterns of behaviour that keep us all stuck and miserable. For many of us this means pretending to be who we are not, or keeping a lid on our real feelings and just getting through Christmas time.

All of this becomes even more difficult when each of you bring along your own tribe with your own way of doing things! It’s easy to slip into judging each other and forming alliances to protect yourself.

I think it’s important to start to look at each other differently. In order for each of us to show up and be authentic we have to be honest about our feelings and our failings and allow ourselves to be vulnerable and to talk about the stuff that really matters. This doesn’t mean throwing truth bombs left, right and centre. It means being real about how you feel and about what you need, it also means giving everyone the benefit of the doubt and remembering that everyone is doing their best.

This can be a hard pill to swallow, however, it has the power to transform the dynamics that play out with friends and family. When we shift our focus from one of judgement to one of compassion and curiosity we are able to provide support and true relationship.

Most of us crave real connection and relationships that nourish us and yet don’t feel safe enough to reveal ourselves to the ones closest to us. We are terrified of being judged or rejected and so we all pretend and keep things on the surface. This way of relating can be confusing and draining, it takes a lot of effort to play a role and to be what you perceive others need you to be rather than being yourself.

So this Christmas I invite you to stay true to yourself and to allow yourself to have a voice when it matters and to remember that everyone is trying to do their best.

To breathe and remind yourself that Christmas is about compassion - being kind to yourself and those around you, not through giving material gifts but through being present, honest and generous in your assumptions about others.

We can instigate this by being brave enough to really show up, being true to ourselves and by allowing others to do the same.

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