I think Carrie Bradshaw said it best: "Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you're pretty sexy and you're taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with."
As we lead up to and find ourselves in the midst of the holiday rush, wherever we look, we see romanticized commercials of rosy cheeked children with their harried parents rushing around to get the best toy or to create the ultimate family holiday adventure. The air is rife with mistletoe kisses of new couples, families, Christmas sweaters, Chanukah gatherings, family traditions and holiday fanfare. It's a club that only those who are in the family way have the golden ticket that gets them into the club where they feel a sense of belonging and sameness.
For many singles today, a feeling of being an outsider of the aforementioned club is a staple emotion. The "being single" experience for some is a frustrating and lonely journey that leads to making poor choices so as to not be alone. Happily, in my practice, I also observe that today for many it is the opposite! In particular, I observe the rise of the alpha female; educated and successful relishing in a chosen single life that decides when and if she will enter the couple pool or not. Singles today want to find their own unique "Self-Culture" that has a sense of purpose and meaning and this can intensify during the holiday season!
Whether you are happily single or a lonely single and would like a holiday season that truly reflects your own unique "Self-Culture", here are some pointers to help navigate dating in the modern world in an emotionally healthy way, especially during the holiday season.
1. Stop Emotional Dumpster Diving! This applies to the entire year and especially over the holidays! Emotional dumpster diving is when you treat yourself as if you deserve only garbage in life, scraping the bottom of the barrel emotionally. Some examples are: engaging in emotional affairs with people who are already in committed relationships, permitting your boundaries to be broken constantly, allowing booty calls, falling for commitment phobes and confusing sex with love. This is a recipe for emotional disaster that kills a sense of self love and creates an inner world of turmoil and self-doubt.
2. Do Find Meaning: Viktor Frankl wrote a most incredible book during his time at Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II called Man's Search for Meaning. He says that the pursuit of meaning in one's life is what leads to sincere joy and fulfillment no matter the circumstance one is in. An inspired quote of Frankl says it all: "In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice." I encourage those who feel lonely or empty over the holidays to combine holiday social events with a sense of meaning and purpose. For example: Create a holiday themed party with a group of friends in which you collect funds and donate to a worthy cause that you believe in. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Start an online funding effort for a family in need. Do something that means something of value to you. Be of service to others. This is a sure fire method to stop self pity in its tracks.
3. Do Value Your Alone Time: See time alone as an opportunity to create personalized self-care in a focused way. Find out what truly makes you tick. What is your inner voice saying? What makes your heart happy? What brings you joy? Who is your real self? What path are you on? And what do you want out of your life? You need time alone to know the answers to these questions so that you can live your best life. The quest for your own unique "Self-culture" is not a narcissistic, futile, self-indulgent pursuit. It is vital to your well-being. You can serve those you love and the planet better when you know who you are and are at peace with yourself.
4. Do Start a New Hobby: Over the holiday season, time may be on your hands. If so, endeavour to start learning something new either in a class format or online. Try something that pushes you out of your comfort zone a bit, like take an improvisation class, or learn how to make soap, candles, or gluten free cookies! Whatever it is, do something that challenges your brain and/or exposes you to meeting new people.
5. Do Get Out of Holiday Fantasy Land: Over the holiday season it is so tempting to have one's expectations be overly inflated so that fantasies of meeting Mr. Right (or Ms. Right) at a party may lead to making poor decisions that later create regret. Lower your expectations of social events to stave off disappointment. And again......Don't confuse sex with love!
6. Don't Get Caught by the Love Drug! I usually caution my clients against having sex too soon in a dating situation due to this pernicious little hormone we emit during foreplay and sex, that can trick the mind into thinking it wants to build a nest with someone, even if the person may not be right for them. This oxytocin hit can make people ignore clear signs of dysfunction. It can override clear logic, self-care, healthy boundaries and appropriate romance time management that leads people to abandon themselves, their friends and activities that are outside the relationship's inner sanctum!
7. Do engage in Emotional Self-Sufficiency: Avoid having expectations of others. Engage in Self-Care. Treat yourself as a loving parent would treat you. Rescue yourself. Fill your own cup first and give to others from the overflow.
The holiday season is a wonderful time to rock your single-hood in a way that is uniquely yours and is emotionally fit! Find your authentic voice and your own unique "Self-Culture" and know that you are a gift to the planet. And as Carrie Bradshaw says: "The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you, you love, well, that's just fabulous."
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