Many of us feel depressed after Christmas. When the festivities are passed, we’ve welcomed in the New Year, or watched others do so, and the tinsel is put away, we’re left with ourselves and what is unfulfilled or not working in our lives. It’s the post-Christmas let-down for some, while others may not really enter into the spirit of the occasion in the first place.
It can be a hard time. It’s like a massive bump back to earth, back to seeming reality. We get caught up in the pre-Christmas rush to buy presents, get in the food (“Get ready for Christmas”, people say), attend parties, maybe some of us sing carols, and generally get affected by this enormous rise in expectation. Then afterwards, when people have gone, or they seem to have had a good time and you haven’t, or you’ve spent time on your own, you’re left with your life and how it is. It’s like there can be a massive mismatch between hope and expectation on one side, and the seeming emptiness or futility or pointlessness or unfulfillment on the other side, and we flip from the first back to the second.
Traditionally Christians celebrate a new birth, the arrival of the Messiah, new hope and possibility. This lingers on in the Western psyche. then on the other side you’ve still got that life that in one area or another isn’t working as you’d want. It might be that we need to bring over the sense of spiritual wholeness from one side to infuse the other, but don’t know how we can bring hope and possibility and positivity into our lives to make it work for us, to find our own “heaven”. You don’t have to be a Christian to experience this dilemma. You just have it in the face with our culture and with the challenges you might face in life. It’s at this time that you get it in sharp relief.
I remember as a teenager crying buckets at this time, just after Christmas and having just finished a novel that had a sad ending, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. In the novel both the hero’s girlfriend and her baby die in childbirth. “Was there nobody there for me?” was my question. It was very existential: life seemed meaningless and all I wanted to have love in my life. There seemed to be this gap between me and love. Love was “out there” and I wasn’t getting it.
There’s this gap between how the world seems “out there” and how we are feeling inside. People have just been having a great time (or so it seems – many aren’t really) and the ego has just been having a wonderful time indulging itself in desire, in wanting. So we’ve been feeding our ego tendency till we’re totally absorbed in it, either in enjoying it or being aware of the want of it, of its lack. So we experience a very sharp polarity.
There’s a clue in the word “love” and our desire for more of it. The challenge is to bring our awareness inside, so that we can go within and feel the love that is there. It’s not gone away, but we may need to find it and connect with it. And find new purpose, direction and meaning.
I give coaching to people who are depressed at this time and are looking to bring joy, contentment and fulfillment back into their lives, whether it be in their work, their career, their relationships or their life in general. Read more here and you can contact me here.