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He’s smart, and he’s sneaky.
He got to us early. We’ve known him since childhood.
He became so familiar we began to hear his words in our own voices.
His name is Guilt, and he wants to steal your life.
I grew up in an atmosphere of guilt. Of course, that didn’t begin with me. Guilt flexed his muscles in my family long before I was born. By the time I surfaced, he was part of the air we breathed.
Because of abuse, I was one of those kids who felt responsible for everything bad that happened. I grew skilled at living in the land of what-if and if-only. “What if I had….?” “If I had only…” I burdened myself with things I wasn’t responsible for and had no control over. Then there was the junk I was responsible for – thoughts that led to hurtful words and actions. Add to this a number of other significant hits – deaths, losses, and tragedies.
I had no idea how to deal with this stuff. So, I tried to take control. I made myself responsible and became a relentless, overachieving robot.
Guilt had succeeded. His voice had become my own. He became the unseen shadow piloting my life.
Perhaps you are well acquainted with him too.
I once had a gerbil named Ralph. He was especially fond of the wheel in his cage. He would get it in and run for seemingly hours at a time. Even in the middle of the night, I could hear that little wheel going round and round.
Ralph was industrious, but he didn’t accomplish much. He wasn’t supposed to. He was a gerbil. He was cute. That was enough.
I wonder how many of us feel caught, trapped in small lives, going round and round but not getting anywhere?
How many of us feel stuck, burdened by the challenges we’re facing?
How many of us have the painful past frequently invade the present, hijacking our emotions?
How many of us regularly settle for something we sense is far less than we were destined for?
I believe our “friend” Guilt has a lot to do with this.
It’s time we saw him for who he is, don’t you think?
NEXT TIME: How do we learn to recognize Guilt, and then deal with him?
The holidays are here, and for many of us, they hurt.
This is the fourth and final video in our series on Beating Holiday Grief.
Here are the major points from the other videos:
Video #1: Grief makes holidays challenging, and expectations can add even more to your grief load.
Video #2: You can be proactive. You can choose – what you do, when, how, and with whom.
Video #3: You can meet grief head on, and plan specific ways to honor your loved one.
Today I would like to share with you that something that could make a huge impact in your holiday experience. I call it the Holiday Healing Secret.
Actually, it’s not a secret. In fact, it’s so simple you might even roll your eyes.
Use your grief to give thanks.
You can turn grief into thanksgiving. Gratitude helps heal broken hearts.
- Plan a specific time of thanksgiving focused on your loved one.
- Have a balloon release. Write messages to or about your loved one on balloons and then release them together.
- Write short messages of thanksgiving about your loved one, put them in a box, and wrap them. Open it with the other gifts and read them together.
Be creative. Make it personal.
Use your grief to help you heal. Practicing thanksgiving can be very powerful.
Here are three resources that can help further:
- I Miss You: A Holiday Survival Kit – a free e-book you can download any time.
- Surviving the Holidays Without You: Navigating Grief During Special Seasons – a practical book full of stories and encouraging content. Available in e-book and paperback.
- The Good Grief Mini-Course – a free email course to help you ride the roller coaster of grief.
Yes, your life has changed forever. These holidays might be difficult, but they can still be good.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Question: How might you use thanksgiving to honor your loved one and help yourself grieve well?