Are you having an unhappy new year? It’s that time of year when inboxes, social media feeds and text messages are full of messages wishing us a Happy New Year. But what can you do if your New Year feels far from happy?
Christmas and New Year are a time when it is expected of us to be upbeat and happy. But what if you can’t manage that right now? And if every happy new year wish makes you feel even worse?
This Christmas has been a tough one for our family. The week before Christmas, my normally fighting-fit Mother-In-Law was admitted to hospital with a broken arm. We spent the whole of Christmas fighting to try to get the overstretched hospital staff to do more than ‘holding care’ as complications turned this minor injury into one that required blood transfusions. And we felt like we were failing. On New Year’s Eve she died of a sudden, unexpected heart attack.
And there have been a couple of other situations that have come up over the past two weeks that will also change our lives forever.
So each and every post I have seen, instructing me to be happy and to celebrate the New Year, has triggered my pain button.
My Inner Drama Queen has wanted to rant and cry and tell people ‘how dare they’ tell me how to feel, just because of a calendar date. I have had to work quite hard to stop her from responding rudely to everyone who has been kind enough to send us loving New Year wishes. My Inner Drama Queen wants to project the pain she feels.
I know I’m not the only person in the world who is going through the Brown Stuff just now, so I thought it might help you if I share the three main things I’m doing to handle ‘daring’ to feel miserable at what ‘should’ be a happy time of year. It’s my strategy for having a positive, unhappy new year.
How To Have A Positive Unhappy New Year
1. Stop Judging Yourself
It’s ok that you don’t feel happy right now. At tough times in my life, the Dalai Lama’s mantra of “This too will pass” has really helped. Beating myself up about not feeling happy has never helped me to feel happier.
And stop pretending that you’re feeling ok, if you’re not. It’s ok not to be. Accepting the emotions you are feeling, without diving into the drama and the story, allows you to get back to an even keel much more quickly.
Yes, it might be time to get some professional support. Yes, it might be time to take positive action to turn your situation around. But judging yourself and allowing your Inner Critic to take over doesn’t help.
If missing a loved-one is the big issue for you, here’s my recent article on how to handle grief at Christmas. And Good Grief by Dipti Tait can really help, too.
2. Get Off Social Media
People want other people to feel happy at New Year and Christmas. It’s a fact. And we find it hard to handle being around people who aren’t – who throw cold water over our fun. And that’s ok.
It’s not reasonable for the Inner Drama Queen to expect others to temper their happiness, just because we’re feeling low. Similarly, exposing ourselves to a constant stream of happy people is a form of self-torture, if we’re in a space when we need to ‘be with’ our less-than-happy emotions.
If you’re struggling with things in life that make it hard to feel happy, then it’s worth ducking out of social media until the New Year hype has died down. Turn to real-world friends, instead, who will truly listen and support you. It’s ok to ask for help.
3. Ask Yourself The Magic Question
“What’s true in this?”
If you find yourself telling yourself stories about how it’s not fair or others shouldn’t behave the way they should, take a step back, do some mindful breathing and ask yourself what is true in that story and what is projection – the Inner Drama Queen wanting to be heard?
Ask your body: if you catch yourself telling yourself (or others) stories about whatever is happening in your life, does your body relax or tense? Does it feel lighter or heavier? If it’s getting tense and heavy, you might find my simple ABC technique to tame your inner critic in under sixty seconds and choose which thoughts to feed turns things around for you.
Above all, if you’re in a painful place just now, give yourself the time and space you need to heal. And make sure you are allowing people to help you. You might be surprised how happy they are to do so.
I hope this 3-step strategy helps – and I send you love and big virtual hugs, if you’re struggling during this happy season. I hope your unhappy new year soon shifts and that the sun comes back out for you.