Editor’s Note: The following article was written by contributor Glenn W. Frost, LCSW-R
As the season of giving is upon us, we sometimes forget to give something to ourselves. Perhaps the greatest gift we can bestow upon ourselves is the gift of permission. We might have had some struggles this past year but why not give ourselves permission to be happy anyway? Everyone around us is telling us to “be in the holiday spirit” but you might be thinking of someone special who you have lost this year, so why not give yourself permission to be sad? Why not give yourself permission to be courageous, or permission to be scared? These are emotions that all of us feel all year round but these are also some emotions that we are told, subtly or not, to not express, especially this time of year. The “holiday spirit” is to be happy, however, we each define happiness in many varied and personal ways. I, myself, define being happy as being true to myself, whatever I might be feeling.
I see many people that feel like being sad but don’t want to disappoint those around them. While some may be disappointed, you must know that is not your intention. You are not feeling sad, or happy, or scared to disappoint those around you. You are feeling these feelings so that you can feel them. So give yourself permission and allow yourself to feel them. Let yourself experience the emotion. Then do what you need to do with them so that you can get them out of the way and get into the “holiday spirit”, whatever that means to you. The gift of permission allows you to feel anything and everything that you want and anything and everything that you need to feel. So lay down on the earth with eyes wide open and watch your feelings pass over you like clouds, for just like clouds, you cannot hold them back and they will pass.
While you are in the gift giving mood, why not also give yourself and those around you the gift of honesty. If you don’t feel up to the same type of celebration that you’ve always had, tell someone. If you’re happy, mad, sad, or scared, let someone know. My guess is they already know but much like the proverbial pink elephant in the room, everyone looks around it and under it pretending it is not there. These are missed opportunities to have important conversations with important people. This year let’s give ourselves permission to have those important and honest conversations. So in this upcoming season of giving why not give ourselves the most important gift of all, the gift of taking care of ourselves.
More about the author: Glenn Frost, LCSW-R, is an adjunct faculty member at the State University of New York at Buffalo’s Graduate School of Social Work. For nearly 20 years Glenn has worked with children, adolescents, adults, families, couples and groups healing from a variety of issues ranging from depression and anxiety to sexual/physical abuse. With many years of experience working at The Life Transition Center and Hospice Buffalo, he has expertise working with those experiencing grief and loss/death and dying. Glenn is currently a medical social worker at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and maintains a private practice in Amherst, NY.