It seems to me that Christmas is one of the most haunted times of the year.
Old wounds come rearing out of the graves we've laid them in to stalk through our present day realities with their painful, chilly reminders of past hurts.
Echoes of old family dynamics moan through our gatherings and pull our strings as if we've not matured at all since childhood.
Memories of past Christmases with loved ones who are no longer with us haunt our celebrations with grief.
As the past holds us in its grip, we're likely to find old reactions and patterns of behavior that we'd thought we'd long since outgrown flaring into life once more.
With this tendency for regression into our old "stuff" coming so close to the end of the year when we're also tending to perform life reviews and preparing for the new year to come, it's easy to become discouraged as it appears that all of our personal growth work has been for naught.
The truth, of course, is that we have grown and we have developed new skills and patterns of relating. We just lose sight of them temporarily as we're surrounded by the ghosts of Christmases past.
The first key to coming back to ourselves is to recognize these hauntings for what they are. Expecting these ghosts and being able to see through them to the reality of what is here and now frees us from their grip.
(If you're struggling with this step, find a more complete consideration of this step in When your inner child goes home for the holidays.)
The next step is remembering to see our journey through life as a spiral instead of expecting a straight line.
When we are expecting a straight line of growth and improvement, it's shocking and discouraging to find ourselves facing old challenges once again, but when we expect a spiral, that changes.
In a spiral view, we are able to revisit old challenges and recognize that we are coming to them from a different level of awareness and skill even if the territory looks remarkably similar.
From that point of reference, it's easier to take a step back from all the ghosts and stay with our present reality by staying true to the selves we've grown into instead of getting sucked into re-enacting old versions of ourselves.
Make sure your preparations for this year's holiday celebrations include a little time to prepare yourself to recognize these hauntings of Christmas past and to ground yourself in your present reality of where you are in the spiral of growth.
It's so much easier to stay on track and not let the hauntings get to us when we are prepared.
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