Family Magazine

The Holidays and Mindfulness

By Gingercouturier @GingerCouturier

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.


It’s $45 nice though.



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