December is a time of festivities. It is a month of sentiments – we lament and miss loved ones who have passed, we mediate arguments with negative relatives, we feel joy at seeing loved ones who live far away, and we feel deep love and connection when we share time with those dear to us… December is a month where you’re bound to experience many different kinds of emotions – for better or worse. The holidays can be both a beautiful time of celebration of love and kindness and an ugly expression of harboured resentment and anger. The holidays tend to bring out both the best in people and the worst in people. For those who are sensitive, intuitive or empathic, this can mean an emotional overload, leaving you feeling drained, out-of-sorts and scattered – and not very festive. If you are sensitive, intuitive or empathic, you already know what I’m talking about, so I’d like to offer some suggestions about how to navigate the emotional rollercoaster of the holiday season.
Most importantly, you must first figure out how YOU are really feeling – what emotions you are experiencing? Take a few minutes throughout the day to check-in with yourself: how am I feeling? How does that (situation, person, object etc) make me feel? Am I happy? Sad? Annoyed? If you can, jot down your thoughts about your feelings in a journal. You don’t have to write elaborate prose – sometimes just a couple of words on a scrap piece of paper or a sentence in your notebook will help you identify and engage with your emotions.
Allow yourself to experience your own emotions, and then release them. Don’t punish yourself for your feelings. If you’re missing a loved one who has passed, feel it and release it. If you’re ticked-off at Aunt Sue and Uncle Bob because they’re being difficult and unreasonable about where to have Christmas dinner, feel it and release it. Experience your emotions, understand where they are coming from, and let go of any grip that a negative emotion might have on you. If you’re feeling love and gratitude, feel it and keep it. One of the beautiful things about being human is our capacity to feel and emote. Celebrate it. Choose to Live in Love.
We often don’t take the time to check-in with our emotional state, and we really should. Sometimes we feel numb because we’ve stuffed away our feelings for so long – too busy, don’t want to deal with it, or just plain fear of emotions. For some, years of shunning and finger wagging – “oh, you’re so emotional” or “wow, are you ever sensitive!” has lead to empaths shutting down and cramming away feelings into that closet in our hearts. We’ve learned to project a ‘Poker Face’ when dealing with the outside world. In our society – one that touts logic and rationality as the harbinger of the Digital Age – feeling emotions or being sensitive are perceived as undesirable characteristics and traits. In truth, this is not a balanced existence for humans.
Determining what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling will help you understand yourself in a much deeper way. Doing so will help you know yourself, but it will also help you to identify emotions that are not your own. As a sensitive, intuitive or empath, you are likely picking up, sensing, and experiencing the emotions and feelings of people around you. Understanding your own emotional state will help you untangle your feelings from the feelings of others. You might have already found yourself affected by Cousin Dan’s foul mood at the Christmas dinner table, or Grandma missing Grandpa during the gift exchange, or even the sheer elation when young Peggy open her first gift of Hanukah. You might have found yourself in a strange funk, unable to figure out why you feel so weird when everything is pretty ok. These sensations are not your own, you’re picking up other people’s ‘stuff’.
If we know that we are a walking receptor to the emotions of others, it is much easier to navigate these feelings, and mediate them in a positive and healthy way. You’ve come to realize that your Sister’s rage and negativity at the world has an effect on you when you see her. Not inviting people for the holidays or choosing not to interact with them is not always an option (although many empathic introverts will certainly remove themselves from people and situations to avoid the emotional turbulence). You’ve figured out what emotions are yours, experienced them and released any negativity. So, how do you deal with the energetic junk from other people? You need to set some boundaries. By setting energetic boundaries you are setting the intent to not take on, experience, or internalize the emotional state of others.
There are numerous ways to set up your energetic boundaries – a clear affirmation that establishes a border line or a visual of a barrier or shield around you. One of the most common exercises in setting up energetic boundaries is the Egg or Bubble Visualization, where you envision a protective layer that surrounds you and your aura. Here is one example that works for me. It helps me not only to set up energetic boundaries for unwanted emotions from others, but it helps me repel negativity and unwanted energies that may challenge the Light.
Choose a time when you can meditate and be undisturbed for at least ten minutes. Visualize yourself seated as you are – or perhaps you’re sitting somewhere else like a forest, a field, floating on a lily pad, and so forth. Take a few deep breathes and focus on your heart chakra, and feel love. If you’re having trouble – think about something or someone that you really love – a friend, relative or pet, or something spiritual (Your Higher Self, Jesus, Buddha, God, Yaweh, Wakan Tanka, The Divine etc) – whatever leads you to feeling and experiencing deep love. Experience this for a few minutes. Feel peace and gratitude in this love.
Take a few more deep breathes and feel this love pouring out from your heart to surround your physical body from head to toe; feel the love moving around you, perhaps like swirls or white light, or even red or pink hearts if you need a better visual. If you feel any unwanted thoughts or negative feelings arising, visualize it being absorbed by the love and light around you. Experience how it feels to be engulfed in this feeling of love for a few minutes. Feel comfort in this love.
Take another breath or two and feel how this love protects you, feel the strength of love and the power of love. Then, envision a bubble or an egg-shaped energetic layer that surrounds your physical body and encompassing the love that surrounds you. Experience the comfort and protection that love offers. Your protective layer guards the love you feel inside you and the love that surrounds you. A helpful visual is to symbolically assign a picture or icon that represents that negativity and other unwanted emotions (I often use just the letter ‘X’ or a black dot), then simply visualize this ‘black dot’ bouncing off your protective shield – never penetrating your protective layer of love. Watch how the black dot tries to approach you, and watch how it just bounces off of you. Feel safe in this protective love.
Take another couple deep breathes and now feel how this love emanates from your body. Visualize yourself exuding love, from your body, from the space around you, from your protective layer – send love outwards from you. Be genuine about sharing this love with the world around you; expand that energetic space around you (your aura) by projecting love unconditionally. Feel peace and gratitude in this love.
Once you’ve done this exercise a few times, it is easy to pull up the memory and experience of it to connect to the protective feeling of it right away. You can create a short mantra or affirmation for yourself when you are out and about and unable to sit and meditate, which will help you to re-establish energetic boundaries on the fly. This is one I created for myself, and I use it many, many times throughout the day:
Love & Light Within Me.
Love & Light Surrounds Me.
Love & Light Protects Me.
Love & Light Emanates from Me.
December is a complex and emotional month filled with the love of family and friends, or with loneliness and isolation, or even anger and negativity. It’s easy to get caught up in the capitalistic rat-race of consumption. For those who are sensitive, intuitive or empathic, you can manage the potential emotional overload in a healthy way so that you are not left feeling drained, out-of-sorts and scattered. To recap:
• Take a moment to check in with how you are feeling; make some notes about your emotions.
• Experience and express any emotions that you are sensing within yourself.
• Open the closet door and address feelings that have been stuffed away.
• Understand that the Emotions of others are not your own – don’t internalize them. Don’t judge other’s emotions, simply send love.
• Set up Energetic Boundaries that repel unwanted emotions of others and negativity in general.
• Meditate as often as you can. Use a Mantra or Affirmation to re-establish these energetic boundaries when you feel you are being bombarded.
I hope that all of you experience a holiday season filled with love and light. Be generous with your love, feel its power, gain strength from it. Namaste, my friends.
In love & Light,