Updated: Dec 18, 2020
At this time of year, we tend to go extra hard on the love and light. Maybe this is an innate human impulse to balance out the dark, dense energies of the season or maybe it's a coping mechanism in a world where unpleasant feelings are avoided- either way, I can't help wondering how much this denial contributes to the Winter blues and depression. When our painful, dark, intense feelings aren't allowed an outlet, they stay in and clog up the works. Our works. And then when we're clogged and only see smiling faces and messages of good cheer around us, then our darkness can seem like and aberration. And then we add shame to our already unpleasant stew. This is not a great start to 3 - 5 months of cold and darkness.
This is the reason Winter festivities were different in traditional societies- they acknowledged and embraced the internal as well as external dark. We all have it- darkness- and ignoring it only drives it deeper into our spirit, so clearly embracing is the only healthy direction here.
I've been noticing that familiar struggle- between what I actually feel and what I'm supposed to feel- coming up in my circle. Mostly, it's people feeling hate and then, on top of that, feeling shame because they're not supposed to feel hate. Now, this isn't hate of entire groups of people based on their skin color, income, political party or personal beliefs. It isn't blind hate- most often, their hate is directed right back at themselves.
And these aren't 'hateful' people either, though I bet this exercise would work for them as well. Because hateful people are just folks who, I believe, have never been allowed healthy release of their feelings and then been encouraged to blame their pain on ______fill in the blank________.
The fear of becoming a hateful person is strong. We know we don't want that life and feeling any hate at all seems like a gateway. Logical, but incorrect. In fact, releasing our hate in a healthy way is the path to not becoming consumed by it. How do you release hate? Here is an incredibly simple way:
When you feel those malignant emotions begin to consume you, stop and write down all the things you hate- about yourself, your ex, your job, your family, whatever it is that is currently eating you up. Often it's just one, maybe two subjects at a time, but if you've never done this before then you may have a lot more to get out. Let it out.
That's it. Just let it out. Go into detail. Write about what sucks and why and how disappointed you are and how it's never going to get better. Let. The. Feelings. Have. Their. Voice.
I don't want to give away the ending for you, but I promise I've had magical results every time. As the feelings seep out of my body, a little equilibrium returns and you can see clearly again. If not, then you just haven't done it long enough.
An important note- serious grief is different. This practice is best for hot, immediate feelings. Grief is slower and steadier and has its own timeline. You can't rush it. The principle is the same- giving our feelings healthy release prevents them from stagnating and accumulating- but the grief will take as long as it takes and the effects of the release will be less apparent. Grief is just that big- draining a pool takes much longer than a sink and there's not much we can do to make it go faster.
Be gentle with yourself and know that it won't stay forever, but it WILL feel like forever. I tell you this so you won't have the burden of unrealistic expectations.
For those of you in throes of intense but shorter lived fury, I hope this practice helps you feel seen and heard. It always does for me and for others as well.