The Holidays and Mindfulness

Yesterday I had a really good therapy session. In fact, I would even go as far as to say it was great, considering that I almost skipped out on it. I’ve felt very, very depressed over the past two weeks and when I feel this bad I have a habit of wanting to do nothing. Or wanting to do a lot of everything but having such a foggy and unorganized mind that I am only capable of walking in circles and whimpering to myself. 

Therapy was very good for me though, I cried for about half of the time while talking about all the anxiety that I thought was causing such deep, sad thoughts. I told my therapist about the Christmases that have brought me to this sad place, the arguments, the disappointment in the behaviors of others, the ways I’ve felt for some time with each holiday that has passed. I kept apologizing for the tears and the crying and she told me not to be sorry and that we were going to focus on my endless need to apologize in future sessions.

After we spoke of the past she turned the session into a planning of sorts.

“How are you going to handle your feelings this year?” she asked.

I flat-out told her that because the kids would be with Huz on Christmas Eve, I was going to get drunk. She said it was funny that I already seemed to have it planned, where as on normal occasions don’t think ahead about the desire to be intoxicated, or the fact that when I do become a blubbering mess, it isn’t really a forethought, it just turns out to be.

I simply stated, “I know myself.”

She dug a little deeper and brought it out of me that I didn’t really want to get drunk, I honestly just didn’t know what else to do when I knew I was going to be alone for the holiday. She then asked me if there was something that I might be able to do that would make me feel better about myself than the alcohol would ultimately make me feel.

I thought long and hard while taling aloud coming up with a few things that would not so much be a distraction, but more of an entertainment to myself.

  • I talked about being able to enjoy wrapping the gifts and preparing for the small group that I’ve invited over the day after Christmas.
  • I talked about taking a bubble bath and giving myself a much needed manicure.
  • We talked about what movies or music might help me feel happy and she suggested that I could maybe treat myself to a latte or something special that would bring me some happiness while enjoying.

She also (most helpfully) suggested that instead of buying a huge bottle of wine, alternatively, I buy a nice (but small) bottle, plan to only have a glass if I really wanted it, and before opening the bottle use my distraction techniques (that I’ve been successful with) in effort to delay or even avoid the act of drinking.

She then dissected my plan for the day and easily brought me to my own conclusion that I don’t really want to get drunk. I know I will feel awful the next day and probably just sob alone by myself for the evening, which in turn would only make me feel bad, not good. I realised that even though I have many bad memories of Christmases past that they are behind me now and the cycle has been broken.

I CAN feel good about this year and make things good for us, in fact, I am doing just that, little bits everyday.

She also helped me make a plan for Christmas Day, a way to celebrate with new traditions for the kids and I to enjoy. I want to emphasize that our new life can be and feel special, nurturing and stable after all the years of past hostility.

After we discussed my new-found plans for surviving the holidays positively, my therapist introduced me to a new skill that I will be learning in a few weeks in group. She said she thought it would be beneficial to me and something that I could start practicing right away. It’s called Mindfulness. Basically, she explained to me, we have two frames of mind when it comes to decision-making: Emotional Mind and Reasonable Mind. 

  • The Emotional Mind is the passionate part and your thinking is controlled on your emotional state.
  • The Reasonable Mind is your rational and logical part and based only on facts.
  • The goal is ultimately satisfy both parts of the mind, to find a happy medium; this is calledWise Mind.

Immediately, I recognised that I base 95% of my decisions on my Emotional Mind.

I thought that it was 100% but she then pointed out that I would never pay my bills or do anything responsible if my Reasonable Mind was never in charge. I kind of chuckled that she thought I was capable of any reasoning but did realize she was correct – eventually, after much procrastination on “boring” things, that part of my mind does kick in.

She asked if I could think of an example of where I could use this skill and I quickly said that I had a great example.

“Last night I bought my Christmas tree and splurged more than I could afford by ignoring my budget of $30 and spending $75, on not only a humongous tree, but also two wreaths. I ended up beating myself up for it all night!”

She asked me to list what each part of my mind would have been telling me and this is what I came up with:

Emotional Mind:

  • These things will make me feel happy
  • Everything smells so good and this huge tree will look beautiful and festive in my home
  • I want it all

Reasonable Mind:

  • I can only afford $30
  • I want a small tree
  • The wreaths and tree are going to be worthless when the are dried up and trashed in a week or two

Naturally, my emotional mind “won” and before I fell asleep that night I was stressed for hours about the extra $45 which would have paid my water bill for the month. Why did I do that? I questioned myself over and over and felt horrible about the items I purchased to ironically make me feel happy.

Had I known about and applied this skill on my shopping trip I would have applied the technique by finding the common ground between the two to satisfy both my emotional and reasonable mind.

I could have purchased a smaller tree for $30 and allowed myself to buy one wreath for $10 and felt truly satisfied. I wouldn’t have beat myself up had I only gone over my budget by $10 and felt happy to have both a tree and wreath I could afford.

I think this skill is going to work wonders for me but it is going to take a lot of practice.

The hardest part will be allowing myself the time to really weigh out my decisions and put it to good use on a daily basis. I know I will feel empowered and stop wondering why after I make such solid decisions I almost always end up hating myself for the choices I tend to make.

I plan on testing out this new skill today when I go to Bed Bath and Beyond and Walmart to pick up a few last-minute things for the holiday.

Over the next few days I’ll put up some pictures of my big ol’ tree and some snapshots of my almost finished Chrismas decorated home, maybe I’ll share a craft or a recipe also. I guarantee you will get a laugh out of the tree, that is so large that it takes up half of my living room.

Really.

It’s $45 nice though. 😉

 

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17 thoughts on “The Holidays and Mindfulness

  1. Wow! That sounds like a really great session! I love that you have a much better plan in place for Christmas Eve and I absolutely love the act of mindfulness. I am looking forward to hearing how the shopping trip goes and can’t wait to see pics of the house and decorations. I will definitely use the mindfulness technique going forward. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. It was really great and I think that I understand that on the days when I really don’t want to go, it’s probably because I really need to go. I am glad to have a plan in place too, it actually lifted a ton of my anxiety! If you do use the mindfulness, let me know how it goes. I’m just starting with my money issues but would love to apply it in other areas, so if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear! Thanks for reading Dacia, you are a great friend 🙂

  2. Mindfulness. That’s a handy tool to keep filed away in the back of my brain! I intend to pull it out and use it regularly. Thanks for sharing this, Ginger! My personal shopping tool I want to share with you today, though I admit it wouldn’t work on a HUGE living room swallowing Christmas tree, is this:

    When I go shopping with a budget and I see something that I really want, but don’t need or can’t afford (take your pick), I carry it around with me as I complete my shopping. I look at it, touch it, think about where I might place it if I bring it home with me. Then, when it is time to check out, I go back to the place in the store where I found it and PUT IT BACK. Strangely, for my brain at any rate, it satisfies my need to own the thing, because for the hour or so I was in the store it was MINE! I have saved thousands of dollars and garnered much satisfaction with this method. (It also works online, fill the cart with goodies, then cancel and close the page!)

    Weird, huh?
    ~ Lynda

  3. That’s not all that weird, in fact I do the online thing quite frequently! I am one for pulling things out of my card when I go, but I usually replace the replaced item with something else. Not quite the right idea! I enjoy your idea and will try it sometime, it does sound like a satisfying technique!

    I’d like to share all of my upcoming newly learned skills, especially ones that will help in the most common of situations. Hopefully they will be as much fun and logical!

  4. I’m with Lynda and I do the same thing. What’s worse for me is not buying for myself but buying for others. I need to stop that.

    I’m printing out this post so I can read it over again. Perhaps I need therapy.

    Hugs and Merry Christmas

    1. Hugs to you Karen! I tend to buy, buy, buy for anyone or any reason. I realize though that things don’t make me happy in the end though. Sure, there are some things that I enjoy for a long time, but ultimately, I am not happy with my self and purchased items will never fix that.

      Of course, it would be unreasonable to say I’ll never buy anything again. At least though if I am mindful about purchases I won’t self defeat and beat myself up in the end! I hope this will be useful for you and it can be applied to many things, not just spending.

      I wish you a very Merry Christmas sweet Karen!

    1. Thanks Supermom! I know the holidays sure can be rough 😦

      I am really happy that I have a plan to get through them now, use my plan to make your own if you’d like 🙂

      Depression stinks, but understanding why you are depressed really does help, well in this case, for me it did!

      Thanks for reading and I send my love your way!

  5. Hi Ginger! It’s been awhile since I’ve “seen” you! Thanks for sharing your session…it certainly brought a bit of insight to me as well. Every Day is a New Beginning, is my moto for life. Take it a day at a time and wake each day expecting great things! (It works best when you don’t wake up with a hangover – so curb your drinking!!)

    1. I’m slowly but surely coming back around, Linda, and it feels great to get back into the swing of things! You live by a great motto, I especially like that you wake up each day expecting great things! That frame of mind is something I would certainly benefit from! Cheers!

  6. I went through the same thing when my son had to have every Christmas divided between his father and myself.. I’ll be thinking of you….wishing you little happy treats for yourself …..I always made the holidays stretch to involve other days and do special things with my son on those days….blessings to you…

    1. It is a tough thing to spend a holiday without them. I had to decide what would be best and most fun for them, so I put my loneliness on the back burner for the night. I know they will have so much fun with their little cousins on his side.
      Stretching out the holidays is a good deal too, they come and go so quickly as it is. I hope you have a wonderful week, many hugs!

  7. Interesting post! I like how you explained the wise mind to us! Now I myself am thinking about some counter-productive ways of thinking I might engage in every day.
    I totally understand the getting drunk part during Xmas. Not too long ago I thought that is exactly how I would spent my Xmas this year (then it ended up being a very very nice day with my boyfriend!). How great is the way your therapist showed you how to make the best out of this day when you are by yourself…! Being by yourself doesn’t mean it has to be a depressing occasion. I know that now. I spent Thanksgiving by myself, and it still was ok.
    Happy new year, to you, Ginger, your tree rocked! 45 bucks over your budget that were well spent!

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