I just don’t have it in me to be thankful this holiday season. I don’t even have the energy to summon a pretend smile, which I assume the rest of you are doing. Perhaps my seasonal depression is starting to feel the coldness of winter approaching, and I can’t help but question the genuineness of joy and thankfulness this holiday season.
As we delight in the warm colors of trees half masked of summer’s leaves, the natural world that surrounds us waits patiently for the call to completely turn inward. Yet upon the first wind of winter we compulsively run away from the lulling song of mother nature. We distract ourselves with candy-coated happiness glazing over our heavy hearts and get-togethers that end up making us feel more alone. Even worse, the “woke movement” pokes at our vulnerability and calls us to a list of personal growth projects to keep seasonal depression at bay. Why has our culture become so uncomfortable with emotions that exist outside of the perfectly wrapped box of happiness? Why are we so obsessed with thankfulness, gratefulness, and joy during the holidays? What happened to being okay with not being okay?
The godfather of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, states, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” Jung goes on to teach us how the shadow is the unknown dark side of the personality that our conscious ego doesn’t want to identify itself with. We can’t be free and truly happy until we’ve allowed ourselves to confront suppressed emotions and the experiences our ego has desperately tried to ignore and hide. If the summer sun brings with it vitality and strength, then the winter moon may bring with it a time to pause inside the depths of our human experience.
The shadows of winter will soon find us and reveal to us a darkness within that we may be too afraid or ashamed to admit we have. The Universal Law of Polarity states there is an equal and opposite to everything; to achieve wholeness we must understand this principle. The winter season provides us with the opportunity to understand ourselves more fully and deeply. Instead of compulsively shoving that bottle of peppermint flavored gratefulness down our throats this holiday season, let’s take a moment to immerse ourselves in the bitter-sweetness within. In the name of happiness, sadness, and the pursuit of knowing thyself, cheers!