The holidays are stressful for the best of us and those of us who’ve endured trauma often find it even more so. Thus, old wounds are liable to either reopen or become irritated. We may fall back into unhealthy patterns of behaviour or thinking. Perhaps we are alone or have lost connection with those whom we are most used to seeing around this time of year. Whatever the reason for one’s discontent it usually stems from some sort of lack of larger meaning or purpose in one’s life. It wasn’t until I was 27 that I KNEW I needed some type of belief system, atheism or agnosticism weren’t sufficient anymore. I needed more support than the simple belief we are just bodies and once we die that’s the end. Unlike some I didn’t run for the nearest church; instead, I rationally inquired within myself what beliefs I had and if they were open to growth? So I ended up delving into meditation and deeper into Eastern Philosophy/Buddhism. They provided me with the sustenance I had been looking for.
Living one’s life without ANY spiritual or religious compass can be a lot to handle when crisis hits. For myself, I’d grown
up never attending church and not being forced to believe anything. It went well for awhile until my mother died, then I realized being Agnostic wasn’t going to cut it if I was going to survive with any meaning in my life. Just having a vague idea about the Cosmos wasn’t adequate anymore. What I’m trying to convey here is if you’re going through a crisis it can be immensely valuable to find yourself a belief system to feel supported by. Some of us don’t have many real life supports in our life so a system of faith or philosophy can help a great deal. You needn’t become a born again Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc, just find something you can believe in. Heck, you don’t even have to totally believe the religion or philosophy but you need to accept something BIGGER than yourself. It might be your “wise mind” or your “higher self” if you can’t stomach religion. Anything that takes you ABOVE your mortal, everyday complaints and puts life into perspective for you will work. You need to feel there is a point to being alive, that you aren’t merely existing until the day you die.
I’d recommend choosing a person in your life to live for but you never know what could happen to them, or your relationship; thus the advocacy for a belief system. I struggle some days with why am I here? Why am I alive still? At times I don’t have any decent sounding answers, but mostly I come back to my beliefs and they sustain me. They aren’t based on a god or number or gods either, my beliefs are eclectic(largely Buddhist but not totally), some might say ‘New Age‘. Whatever you call them, they help keep me going. At the end of the day that’s all you want, isn’t it? A reason to not self destruct? There’s no reason you can’t change your beliefs either if they aren’t working for you. Examine the different philosophies available, shop for your religion like the well informed consumer you are(if you’re a Westerner)! If there is a God, S/He would want you to find them no matter which path you decided on (no offence to the more conservative believers out there).
As a final thought I will add doing volunteer work, or community involvement, can be fulfilling and even stand in as a religion for some folk(Secular Humanism). If you are not keen on adopting a faith or philosophy dedicating your energies to causes you support can act as a useful system of meaning. Many people derive satisfaction from helping others and don’t hold any religious beliefs. Find what works best for you. Don’t hurt yourself or anyone else and you’ll be doing wonderfully. Be kind to yourself and others, people.