Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Welcoming my loneliness at the Christmas table

Loneliness is a tough feeling. At least for me. It has something to do with thinking that I am not lovable enough to belong. That there is something wrong with me, that I am not funny, cheerful, smart, pretty enough to be invited to the Christmas table. For me the toughest part about loneliness, is the shame I feel around it. I don’t want people to know that I am not invited, that I am not worthy enough to be welcomed. I am not taking the risk that people will find out the truth of my unlovability and confirm it. The shame keeps me from sharing my loneliness. So there I am, feeling lonely in my loneliness.

christmas-1047321_960_720We all want a family where we belong and are accepted for who we are, with all our quirkiness, idiosyncratic weirdness, sensitivities. We all want a family that is willing to deal with their triggers around us, in a compassionate, empathic way. Without blame, criticism or demand that we have to change.

Not all of us have that kind of family (fortunately, I do, they are just an ocean away). For some, maybe many, our family didn’t have a sense of unconditional warmth and welcome. Our families didn’t have that unconditional commitment to turn toward each other, no matter the challenge and the pain. Many of us had families where triggers were met with turning against or turning away.

Christmas is one of these times where this pang of loneliness is most palpable. Because Christmas offers the assumption of warmth and welcome. We see people gather in family circles around the Christmas tree, and here we are, by ourselves. The pain is the result of seeing others have what we so desperately want: warmth, belonging, acceptance.

If that is true for you, I invite you to be your own family. I invite you to find the inner resources to have compassion and care for your own happiness. Maybe you can invite the parts within yourself at the Christmas table, whether you like them or not. Pull out a chair for your loneliness, your sadness, your grief, your anger, your fear, your joy. And if you’re up for it, offer a talking stick to each of them. And then listen. Just listen. What are they about? What do they want to be known for? Do they have a request of you, so they can relax and trust that you will take good care of them? And once in a while, breath into your resistance to their message. Welcome your resistance with the same love and open-hearted curiosity.

If you notice a deeper compassion and understanding for yourself, you could extend that compassion and care to everyone else who is in the same boat. If you don’t notice the softening of the heart, you can reach out for me. This Christmas, I am only a phone call away.

You want 6-minutes emergency empathy during the Holidays? Contact me, 512-589-0482.