by Elisa Pompeo, LCSW
We are officially in the “holiday season”! Time celebrating with loved ones can be such an energizing and warming experience. At other times, it can be difficult to regulate our emotions if we lose control of our emotions. During a recent trip home, I was reminded of this.
While celebrating with family and friends, I felt such an immense amount of joy. I had a fun time seeing friends, especially the ones that make me laugh uncontrollably. Family members shared news about weddings, pregnancies, new homes, etc. I was happy to see them grow and succeed. Other times, I was reminded of my own self judgements, and lack of growth. I began to think about the ways that I had not change, instead of the positive things I have done. There were even times when friends and family made remarks that felt invalidating.
These situations can be very disregulating during the holiday season. I remembered that letting go of my emotional suffering was the only way for me to find peace in those moments. Letting go in DBT is a phrase we use to describe the process of releasing ourselves from suffering, not getting rid of the emotions themselves. First we notice what we are feeling; we observe that we have been activated, observe our sensations, and notice any judgements. We do not try to resist them, nor do we push them away. We simply observe and ride the wave of this discomfort. Like a wave crashing on the shore, these emotions have a start, middle, and end.
This can give us some distance from the painful emotions we have, and allow some acceptance in the moment. The next part is to remember that you are not the emotion itself, only experiencing it. Respect that something has made you feel unpleasant, and let it pass.
It is not easy, and it is rewarding. In DBT we like to say that all people feel pain, and not all have to suffer. Letting go of the need to control and manage our painful emotions, judgements, and wishful thinking, creates a sense of peace. I hope that this practice will make the busy holiday season an easier time for all.
WORDS OF WISDOM
MEME OF THE WEEK
The Emotional Badass
BOOK OF THE WEEK
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Chicken Pot Pie, Easy Italian Potato Bake, Texas Chili