If ever there was a season celebrating resilience it is the Christmas Season. As women, this season represents a virtual treasure trove of elements around which we build our resilience, because our resilience is built around our response to stress; and this is the season of stress, both good stress and the other kind.
During this holiday time we find ourselves playing our own version of three-dimensional chess. We are navigating our commitments to our children, creating a happy holiday season for them whether they are three and still believing in Santa Claus, or twenty-three and moving out on their own. We feel both our love and the pull of obligations, both stated and expected, to our family. This is compounded by needing to make the decision of who to spend the actual Christmas Eve or Christmas Day with, or whether to create the magic of the holiday within our home, figuring out how to do the cooking, shopping, decorating, and still for many of us, keep our day job. We need our friends who tend to be less available, as we are, due to being equally stressed out, running, laughing, and at times stuttering instead of speaking.
And this is compounded by our image of what this important holiday season is supposed to contain, an image not formed by Hallmark, or by the endless ads on TV, but an image rooted far deeper in our psyche, an image formed in our own childhood, an image we revisit, one formed by needs and desires remembering them as fulfilled leaving a smile on our face, or memories of want and need that that are still full of pain.
It is this last element that makes this season so challenging, the fact that we are present to this season not just as a forty-five year old, but also as a five year old. That we are navigating not just a list of expectations of those who we love who surround us, but also we are carrying those needs and wants from the child within us.
This is why it is so important to find a way to give to ourselves this season. Not just an actual gift, which may not be a bad idea, but also an inner gift, one of personal perspective — a gift of gratitude, of appreciation for all the resources that we have, of respect for all that we do, and of promise, a promise to do something special just for us, whether this is taking one single moment to put on a dab of perfume that we like, to remind ourselves as we gently waft it’s aroma throughout the day, that we indeed are special, that we can take care of ourselves, to a commitment to use our considerable resources, our resilience, to begin to take better care of ourselves. Now that would truly make this a merrier Christmas.
By Patricia O’Gorman, Ph.D.
The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (publication date 3/5/13)