Dealing With Holiday Disappointment

festivusPsychologists say the most depressing time for many people is the holiday season.  I love holidays, but also find myself vulnerable during this time.  For most of my life, I have been very sensitive.  Its something I really can’t help, it’s how I’m wired.  I realize this puts a burden on the people around me, and I try to just suck it up, but I find myself getting hurt even when it may not have been people’s intent.  Art Garfunkel summed it up well in his song, “All I Know,”

I bruise you, you bruise me

We both bruise too easily

Too easily to let it show

I love you, and that’s all I know

I get bruised very easily.  The good side, is that I have learned to be compassionate towards other people’s pain.  I know that I’m not the only hyper-sensitive person out there, but what can I do?

I love the idea of Festivus, the Seinfeld inspired secular holiday where people sit around the table telling how they have disappointed one another in the past year.  While its pretty awkward to discuss disappointment, it’s probably a good thing because you get to air your grievances, which can be helpful to a relationship.  Some people may be hurting others and they don’t have a clue.  Others may have rationalized their behavior and don’t see that they are causing pain to others.  Finding a KIND way of sharing these things is good.

Nevertheless, even if you try, some people just don’t want to hear it.  They accuse you of making it all about you. There may be some truth to it, but at the same time, people can be pretty insensitive, especially our loved ones.  Relatives tend to take each other for granted.  The holidays are the worst times.

What can people do with their hurt feelings?  First, do what you can to repair a relationship if you can. If you need to apologize, do it.  If you need to forgive, do it. Don’t be too quick to write people off.   If you are invited to a party… GO.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  Sometimes people care more about us than we think they do. People will be happy to see you, because you cared to come.  When I needed surgery, and couldn’t afford it, I was shocked that my friends came through with big money to pay for it.  We may mean more to others than we realize. 

Second, it helps to recognize that being involved in toxic relationships will not be beneficial.  Avoid negative people who drag you down.  Sometimes, there is nothing you can do to fix a relationship, and continuing in it will only create more pain.

Some people go into therapy, and sometimes derive benefit.  Other people avoid people who make them feel bad and hang around with the ones who make them feel affirmed.  That’s a good thing to do.  Finding people who know and value you is positive.  I stopped trying to change the negative perceptions some people have had of me, and spend my time and energies with the ones who value being with me and build me up.

Another thing that helps is to do things to help others.  Helping others can be transforming, for them, and for you.  Rather than let people define you by their negativity, do something positive for others.  Become a blessing.

More than anything else, Forgive people for their hurtful behavior.  Think of the things you have been forgiven for, and be generous towards others in forgiveness.  Sometimes people really don’t mean what they say, and you don’t know what they are going through.  People lash out without meaning it.  Even if you have been hurt, be quick to forgive.