Monday, November 23, 2015

Navigating the Holidays: What we can Learn from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas

One year around Christmas when I was pretty little a teacher read the story, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” I remember because it was right around this time of year; just before Thanksgiving and then Christmas was the next holiday. I fell in love with all of the characters but it was when I got to experience the show on TV that, for some reason, I really fell in love with the Grinch. He just warmed my heart from the beginning.

In order to understand why I fell in love with him you have to freeze the beginning of the story and look at it and
name what was real or what it looked like. For me, even as a little girl, I remember watching the very beginning of the show and thinking, as they scanned his life and his circumstances, there was a feeling of desperation. Although I couldn't define it as a young girl I certainly felt what, as an adult, I have learned to be a feeling that he was totally overwhelmed. I remember vividly when they introduced his living conditions—how he was a bit isolated, how limited his resources were and how he put antlers on his dog to make a reindeer—feeling overwhelmed for him. That is the exact reason that I loved this story and the exact reason I fell in love with the Grinch. He was just moving forward the best way he could. 

The challenge the Grinch faced is that he was in what is called his emotional personality in a big way. Our emotional personality is the part of us that splits off when we get overwhelmed. It is designed to help us survive tough things and it has its own skills and even its own set of likes and dislikes that are completely opposite from our authentic self.

I remember being so happy at the end of the show when he returns to his authentic self and is seen for who he really was all because compassion and kindness were present.

The key word or feeling in this example of the Grinch who stole Christmas was OVERWHELMED. When we hit overwhelmed it puts us immediately into our emotional personality. If we don't learn how to navigate that part of ourselves well, it has potential to go destructive quickly.

I think around the holidays we have high potential to become overwhelmed. My fear for myself and others is that we have potential to be drawn to things that could overwhelm us. Like how things look or projections. Fear of feeling isolated or not having enough. Feelings of inadequacy of any kind. These feelings or circumstances can lead to feeling overwhelmed when we focus on them.

In the story of the Grinch, if only he could have marched down to Whoville and shown his authentic self from the very beginning and just defined what was real (all of his flaws but also that great big heart when it grew two sizes) I have no doubt they would have loved him from the beginning and not had to navigate the emotional self and all the destruction it brought with it. In the end they finally did get to enjoy the real Grinch and, here is the best part, so did he. He got to enjoy himself and interact and form relationships with those around him by simply being who he really was. He was able to integrate the challenges with all that good to tell a complete story. The real one that tells who he really is and celebrates all aspects of his life: the wins, the losses, the pain and the triumphs. And he can be grateful for all of it because it defines him and at the same time others can have compassion for how hard his challenges were to navigate. 

Come Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and even New Years, just get out there and be who you are, in whatever shape and form it is right now: a work in progress, but an amazing work at that. Be more authentic, work harder to understand yourself. Don't become a Grinch and hide it, twist it, or project something that it is not. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, recognize it and don’t let your emotional personality take over. Understand yourself, celebrate your authentic design, and then celebrate others. Work hard to understand them and their journey as well. This will most certainly lead to more happiness, more peace, better interactions, and a true sense of what really leads to a happy holiday season. And keep in mind as you navigate the events of the season....Everyone is a masterpiece!

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