How can we build a resilient Christmas spirit after a tough year?
I have a close friend who is very creative. As Christmas approaches, she tells me that she feels anxious and depressed. She can only see what she’s lost – a regular income, meeting friends, inspiration, and travel. These are the things that gave her a sense of richness and freedom of choice. I try to support her to mourn and connect with her unmet needs. If she could do this, I imagine she would have more ease in dealing with the situation. And if she could acknowledge the needs which are met, for example, space for her creativity, she might be more open for change.
This year Christmas has a different flavour. Life has become unpredictable and our situation changes daily in relation to government guidelines. I’m aware that people are impacted in very different ways. Here in Bristol, UK, where we live, we’ve just gone into Tier 3, the highest alarm level. This means no travel, meeting only outside with a maximum of six people, and working from home if possible. Over Christmas there are different guidelines, so families can meet in small groups. This is how it is at the moment – we don’t know what’s coming. Today, the government started administering the Pfizer vaccine to the first group of vulnerable people.
Life is different from the beginning of the year. My creative friend said to me, “I want my old life back!” In my understanding, there is no way back. We’re facing strong challenges and changes. For me the question is, how can I make sure that I have the resources and the resilience to deal with these? How can I stay in the flow of life, rather than trying to hold on to something that’s gone? And how can I build a resilient Christmas spirit?
In our NVC courses we share a story about the Eden Project in Cornwall. The Project has two huge greenhouses, known as biomes. Some years ago, the trees in these biomes started falling down. The people who look after the trees found out that the fallen trees had no roots to speak of. In the first moment they were puzzled and finally they found out that the trees need wind to grow roots. How does this relate to our life situation? If we could see ‘wind’ (not a hurricane) as challenges which are supporting us to grow our ‘roots’ – resilience, we can grow in our confidence, creativity and skills in dealing with difficulties.
Nonviolent Communication offers us self-empathy as a tool to grow our roots. Through self-empathy we can connect with the life-energy in us, live in the present, find clarity in ourselves, be authentic and live in integrity. With this kind of awareness, we can make conscious choices, for example celebrating met needs and/or mourning unmet needs. This is what I was supporting my creative friend to do.
We can express and ask for gratitude and appreciation as a way of refilling our energy tanks. And we can make requests of others to “make life more wonderful”, as Marshall Rosenberg said. See our Life Hacks on Celebrating Life and Guided Self-Empathy reflection to help develop a resilient Christmas spirit.
Christmas is different this year – let’s try to find out which needs are met and which needs are not met. And then, let’s celebrate and mourn. After all these are just two sides of the same coin of a full life.