Economic Difficulty? The Importance of Self-Compassion and Strategy for the Holidays
The unemployment rate stays steady at 9% in November of 2011. Millions of Americans have been without jobs for years now and many more have been living with some form of pay cut. Many are still facing a harsh financial reality and it can be challenging to stomach. Not being able to afford the gifts we used to buy or the trips we used to take may trigger feelings of shame and guilt, especially if we have kids.
During the course of history, it's been the case that recessions come and go. While commentators seem confused whether we’re in a recession, we’ve been out and are headed for a double dip, or whether we’re edging out, many are still feeling it quite acutely and need to tighten belts, so to speak, and often times change spending habits, not fulfilling the material desires quite so much. During this time it is a mental health practice to give ourselves permission to scale back, understanding the reality of the situation, not just for you, but for millions of people. Although this "past" recession may be hitting us on a personal level, it's important to understand that we are not alone, that many others are in the same boat.
So what can we all do?
- The first step is to really understand that many are experiencing the same plight and we need to give ourselves permission to scale back.
- The second step involves paying attention to Albert Einstein's famous quote "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity". So, "What's the opportunity here?" Too often in our culture we get trapped in a rat race of needing material things to feel good and happy. This is an opportunity to notice that cycle and practice detaching from it and cultivating creativity in deriving pleasure from new ways of giving gifts.
- The third step involves action. As the holidays lie around the corner, how do we give gifts this year?
- Recycle - Pass down a family heirloom that has special meaning.
- Secret Santa - Whether you're celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza - you can play a game where you throw your name into a hat and whoever you pick is the one present you buy for rather than buying presents for everyone.
- Staycation - If you are used to going away for the holidays, stay in town this year and go sightseeing as if you were a tourist.
- Food - Have a get together where the gifts are special home-baked foods.
- Time - Many people just want to spend time with others, so creating a coupon book that is filled with a handful of things that are gifts of spending time together (e.g., going on a walk, a massage, kissing, etc...) can be creative and wonderful.
What are you doing to be creative in these challenging economic times? Please share your thoughts stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.