With forty-five percent of the American adult population single (104 million people) with twenty-seven percent representing single-person households, you are in good company. There is a great difference between being alone and being lonely. Many people enjoy their “alone” time to do those things that are squeezed out of their normal daily schedule. On the other hand, being lonely means that you feel empty inside looking to others to fill a void within.
Of course if you have lost someone dear to you either through a death or a divorce it is much healthier for you to allow yourself to feel the sadness that any loss would create. Give yourself the space and time to grieve this loss. There is no need for you to feel compelled to take part in the holiday festivities, this becoming more of an obligation than something that you may feel like doing.
However, if you are one of the many millions who just find yourself in a situation where you are away from your home or family, or just need a place to celebrate the holidays, the first thing you can do is to share with your friends and coworkers that you haven’t any plans for the holidays. You may well find yourself invited to their home where you may be able to help dispel some family tensions by your presence.
Another wonderful idea is for you to make a list of “acts of kindness” you can perform for your neighbors, friends or classmates. Little things like walking the dog, shoveling the driveway or bringing some homemade goods to someone who would really appreciate them could bring happiness to yourself as well as the beneficiary of your good deeds.
When we think about the holidays, they are really about being present for others rather than bringing presents to others—because what truly matters is that you are spending quality time enjoying being with the people that you are choosing to be with.
What better way to share the holiday than volunteering with some charity that services a population that could use your good cheer. You could serve food to the homeless, bring companionship or some talent to the elderly or cheer up the children in the hospital. There are so many places where you can use this sacred time to bring a smile to others as you do so for yourself.
Many years ago, I worked in a transitional home for the mentally ill. This was a place the clients stayed after being released from the hospital till permanent housing was found for them. Sadly, many of the clients there had family that left them there alone for the holidays. The staff at the house always made homemade holiday meals and bought special gifts for Christmas for our guests. I will always remember the sweet smiles and tears of joy on our guests faces for making their holidays something special for them.
A few years later I was working in a supportive housing program where I was working Thanksgiving Day. It so happened that one of my clients was to have a day pass out of the hospital’s behavioral unit. I remember bringing him back to the program and asking why it was that he wanted to be in a locked unit at the mental hospital. His doctor had told me he didn’t need to be in the locked unit, yet that is where he chose to be. My client told me that he was sure that the people on the locked ward were supposed to be there. It was his way of telling me that he felt safe there. It was that particular Thanksgiving Day that allowed me the opportunity to do right by this client as proven seventeen years later. I was shopping in the produce department of the grocery store close to where that program once was situated. A gentleman asked me if I remembered who he was. I couldn’t remember his name, though I knew that he was an apartment mate of this same client. He told me that my past client was living quite successfully in the community sharing an apartment with another man. I couldn’t tell you how great that made me feel to know how well my old client was doing after all these years given all the challenges he had to overcome to live in the community successfully.
Think about the difference you can make, just being with people who really could use your heart, your care, your ear. One never knows what sort of impact one can have getting out of your own head and into being of service to others.
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