During the holidays many of us are used to coming together and celebrating with the ones we love. It’s a time of year when we reflect, celebrate, and hope for the next one to come. If that’s you this year, we celebrate with you joyfully!
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
However, for many this season holds great pain, stress, and anxiety. It’s a time that reminds us of broken relationships, loss, or loneliness. And this year is particularly unusual as COVID-19 has caused many of us to make major adjustments to our traditional plans.
Maybe you’ve lost a loved one to the virus. Maybe you can’t connect with your family in person because of gathering or border restrictions. Maybe you lost your job this year and can’t afford the Christmas you hoped.
Whatever your circumstances, at Providence Therapy we’re here for you; to hold space for your disappointment, to validate your stress, and to grieve your loss. It’s been a year like no other — and we choose to acknowledge and lament for this suffering.
What About Hope?
As therapists, hope is the crux on which many of us work; we hope for growth and the healing of heart, mind, and soul. And so, while we acknowledge and lament for the suffering of this year, we also hold equal space for hope.
But what is hope you may ask, and where do we place our hope when it comes to recovery? Is hope linked to a vaccine that promises a return to the way things have been? Is hope connected to our government’s ability to provide for our needs? Is hope based on whether or not our neighbour wears their mask at the grocery store? While all these things are valuable (and I’d even argue necessary), as we look to the future we must also consider where our hope lies if these external things don’t resolve our suffering.
In light of that, as we enter a unique holiday season, how should we understand and practice hope then?
A Different Perspective
While I’m still learning and applying this idea in my own life, I can perhaps offer a different way of approaching hope based on what I’ve seen during my time as a therapist.
What if we were to propose hope as an internal shift in state of mind or way of being, opposed to being tied to a certain outcome? A sure confidence and trust that extends beyond the immediate, and instead elevates us to a stronger “self-presence.” The manifestation of genuine care, healing, and guidance that becomes known to us through the retrospective process. A trust that in hindsight we’ll look back on this time and see how things came together to bring meaning into our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined in the here and now.
I Am Grateful For…
A good friend of my husband asked us the other night over a Zoom dinner date, “What good have you seen come out of the pandemic so far?” And together we recounted the little blessings of our year, the priorities we’ve become more acutely aware of, and how we’ve shifted our definitions of hope and gratitude.
For example, perhaps COVID-19 has provided you with the opportunities to learn or practice setting boundaries. Maybe it’s caused you to slow down and re-prioritize your family or your work. Or perhaps it’s uncovered areas in your life that needed attention and healing that you’re finally addressing.
Yes, it’s been a very hard year and holiday season, and it may even be a hard few months ahead. But perhaps shifting our perspective of hope might also bring to us resiliency, self-compassion, and meaning as we move forward.
Wishing you comfort, healing, and joy this Christmas season.