The Holidays can feel really exciting, but very draining and stressful to many of us sensitives. That intensity of energy on both ends often makes many of us want to avoid all of it, yet we play that tug of war internally desiring to make it feel extra special for everyone around us. When you are a highly sensitive person, some call this kind of person an "Empath", you tend to feel the subtle (and not so subtle) emotional energies of others around you as if they are your own. Add that emotional energy on top of the over-stimulation of all of the lights, sounds, smells, and busy thoughts and activities of others and in every space you enter, it can get quite overwhelming. Everything is energy and all things vibrate and send frequencies that bounce off of one another and impact how your energy is vibrating if you are not grounded.
Many of us also come from hurting family systems. When you are already over-stimulated and stressed, on top of entering a system where it's members struggle to show love in the ways that feel loving to us, our guard goes way up when we re-enter that system. We find ourselves wanting to keep the peace, trying to mitigate or stave off topics of conversation that are sure to lead to conflict or dead ends, and keep it light. But 'keeping it light' also means continued avoidance or dismissal of some really deep hurts between each other. Yet - it's the Holidays - It is not the 'appropriate time' to 'go there'. I wonder sometimes if this is the mantra of traumatized family systems.
This is what I think of as the boiling pot that is left unattended on the stove. Stress heats up in our bodies, directs our thinking and perception, heightens what we notice (or do not notice), shuts down our digestion (not what we want to happen when eating all of those holiday treats) and keeps us stuck in old automatic patterns of behavior. We end up responding in ways we used to, having specific expectations of others, and leads to the same old expectations others have for who us and how we should or will be (you wonder why you all of a sudden feel 10 again when you go 'home' to see the family). Our bodies stiffen and we put the cover on the pot, so to say, keeping it together and inside. Eventually that cover blows off and sends boiling water everywhere or more subtly - energy, words, thoughts, behavior, and awkward interactions seep out sideways and become confusing. We leave feeling vulnerable, maybe insecure, worried about what others will think or say, or we leave replaying every interaction and feeling upset. We swore we wouldn't let it get to us this time. We thought we worked hard enough on our selves and were managing our energy so that this time we could be the Light and shift the energy automatically.
Each year, as the Holidays roll around, I am reminded of the pain and unmet needs from the memories of the past complexly mixed with all of the moments of Joy and Hope, wishing the Joy and Hope can continue to fill up the space when I visit family instead of the hurt. Expectations for myself, for the experience, and for others can get high. My body pushes around and through the days, gripping to get everything done in time so I can feel Peace going into the few days that I may be around family and so I can feel really grounded in my energy and my heart when I re-enter this system. While I do not know what it is like for you, I do know that I am not alone in these feelings or the efforts made as we enter into the few days we have with our families. The feelings are information, little messages from your body to cue what is left to be healed. Sometimes they are just little whispers to show you how far you've come as well as to humble you into remembering you are Human and there are other parts of you that still need to be held and listened to. Sometimes they are the feelings of disappointment; reminding us that it may not be your actual family that will join you in healing those wounds. But for now, you must remember the gift that is your Breath.
Breathe. Breathe deep. Breathe slowly. Breathe in, hold it for a moment in your Heart, and Breathe out, very slowly, letting it release out of the bottoms of your feet. Send it deep into the fiery layer of the Earth. Slow it all down even more. Do this with your hands on your Heart.
You alone cannot change your family system and you alone cannot heal the energy patterns that are embedded into that system. But you can pay more attention to your body as you enter into that system. Teach your body that it does not have to be on guard any longer; that you are in fact in charge of yourself and have Sovereignty. Your breath is the #1 Best way to calm down your sympathetic nervous system (the system that triggers your fight or flight response), and triggers into action your parasympathetic nervous system (the system that cues your ability to "Rest and Digest").
There is another very helpful NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) tool, that once you get the hang of it, can help you mitigate how your brain responds to those messages your body sends it (i.e. how you interpret your feelings and happenings around you).
Find the Highest Positive Intention (HPI). When Mom says something about your food choices, consider what her Highest Positive Intention could be and sit with that for as long as you can. She might desire to still be supportive or helpful to you. Even if this is not helpful to you, sit in the energy of her intention as opposed to what she says or how she does it. Regardless of doing this, if you need to establish boundaries about how you are treated. You get to do this too. But do it with her intention leading the boundary you need to set. Same goes for your own responses and reactions internally. When you find yourself ruminating on why something is bothering you so much, consider why it is so important to you, such as "I desire to be helpful and to have others see me with love." Pendulate (swing back and forth) between your ruminating mind and this Highest Positive Intention, until your stronger thought it the HPI.
If you find you need more support for managing all of this, let me know. I offer a few services to support you on your healing journey. Consider a Distance Reiki Session to help support you in sending Unconditional Source Love energy into those places that need nurturing, cleansing, or releasing of stuck or wounded energy. If you are ready to dig in a little deeper and then commit to making some profound shifts and changes, therapeutic and transformational Coaching may be a fit for you. If you just need a reminder, a talisman, holding your healing intentions, find all sorts of Reiki Charged Crystal and Stone Necklaces in my Etsy shop. If you are interested in even greater wrap around support and accountability and connection with other like-minded women, let me know you are interested, by putting your email address on the list for Sacred Sovereignty | Creating a Divinely Embodied Life. "Sacred Sovereignty: Creating a Divinely Embodied Life" is a women's coaching and empowerment group to support you in creating a deep reverence and divinely embodied connection with yourself. The group will provide you with weekly support from me, the group, and your accountability partner for 3 months, with the option of continuing for a full year (or more if you desire).
I wish you the Happiest of Holidays! May you remember to Breathe and May you remember we are all Human doing our best to show and to Be Love.
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Angela is a MN Licensed Mental Health Therapist and Usui Reiki Master. She has a deep personal commitment to Spiritual Growth and continuous Awakening and is always striving to support you in as many ways as she can to finding creative ways for Connecting Soul To Source.