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The Classic Christmas Gift: Self-Pity

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I came across this article on Psychology Today offering some potential explanations of why people get so depressed at Christmas time (http://m.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/200912/why-people-get-depressed-christmas). According to the article, this is the time of year with the highest incidence of depression. The explanations that I found interesting include, “Other[s] get depressed because Christmas appears to be a trigger to engage in excessive self-reflection and rumination about the inadequacies of life (and a “victim” mentality) in comparison with other people who seem to have more and do more…Other people report that they dread Christmas because of the expectations for social gatherings with family, friends and acquaintances that they’d rather not spend time with.”
It’s true. Self-pity or self-hate does tend to show up in nearly everyone’s stocking at Christmas. Expectations are high at Christmas, and no one seems to actually live up to the perfect holiday cards they send out (if you are even “good enough” to do that!). You’re bound to get lots of questions from distant relatives at family gatherings about your life, making you nervous about how’ll you’ll explain your latest failure/achievement without seeming pathetic/arrogant. Even though I’ve experienced a great deal of self-confidence over the past year, Christmas has a way of breaking me, making me wonder, “Am I actually weird for making these life choices?” and “What will people think of me?” I’m assuming that a lot of other people can empathize with these holiday-induced self-torture sessions. What do we do about it? The gift of self-pity is bound to show up now and then around Christmas, but this year my strategy is to simply not unwrap it. In other words, it’s to give my mind no time to reflect on anything which could make me feel down, including my usual box-office hits: “Just remember, family matters,” “You should probably contact some of your old childhood friends while in town,” “You’ve been enjoying life too much,” and “You should brush up on that German now that you have down time.” I’ll do anything it takes not to let myself run through these favorites, even if it means dropping right then and there to do 20 push ups (realistically, no). Maybe it’s okay to take a break from self-reflection for a few weeks if it means I’ll walk out the other side in one piece. Maybe I can choose how much of the holiday madness I’m willing to sign up for. Hmm, I’ll reflect on that and get back to you.

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