Live Through the Holidays, Don’t Just Get Through Them

The holidays are coming.  If you are feeling hurt or betrayed, it’s painful to see others “making merry” when you are in so much pain.  How can you change this?

The holidays can be enjoyable or miserable, based on your beliefs about themselves.  Negative beliefs can fill you with anxiety or depression during the holidays.  If you transform your negative beliefs, you transform your experience.  How do we you that? You can do that by:

  • acknowledging your negative beliefs (cognitions)
  • recognizing how negative cognitions have affected your life
  • transforming negative cognitions into positive cognitions with EMDR

A negative cognition is evidence that a traumatic event has had a powerful effect on your life that hasn’t been assimilated or resolved.  These negative cognitions can be from childhood events.  They can even come from recent events with your abuser.  These events are locked in our nervous system in the form of these negative cognitions, plus emotions and physical sensations that feel the same as the day it happened.  They can be triggered by holiday people, places and things.

A negative cognition is a negative belief you have about yourself now in relation to the past traumatic event.  The negative cognition is usually inappropriate and dysfunctional.  It is usually based in one of four themes:

  • Shame (I am something “wrong”.)
  • Guilt (I did something “wrong”.)
  • Safety  (Vulnerability)
  • Control  (Lack of choice)

Some examples of negative cognitions are:

  • “I am not good enough.”
  • “I should have known better.”
  • “I cannot protect myself.”
  • “I am helpless.”

This is the negative vicious cycle:

  • I was taught, through trauma, how to think, act and feel about myself, reinforced by experiences, family, friends, abusers and society so…
  • I am afraid of the world due to my negative cognitions being reinforced and validated by abusive people in my life and…
  • I behave in negative ways to gain validation of my shame, blame and guilt, therefore…
  • My experiences continue to reinforce the negative cognitions that I was taught to think & feel about myself and others by my abuser(s),

EMDR moves an event from short term memory storage into long term storage.  This is where what is useful is learned and made available for future use.  The negative cognition becomes less and less vivid and valid with each set of bilateral stimulation (eye movement or tapping or tones).

With EMDR, negative cognitions are transformed and replaced by a positive cognition of your choosing.  This creates a positive cycle:

  • I think, act and feel according to positive cognitions and values I am creating, reinforced by new positive experiences with family, friends and society, so…
  • I think affirmingly about myself due to my own sense of self and…
  • I live in the world in terms of being reinforced and validated by positive cognitions internal to me and…
  • I behave in positive ways to get internal validation of my value and worth, therefore…
  • My experiences continue to reinforce the way I feel about myself and others based on my positive cognitions.

If you want to make this happen:

1. Go to , click on “Find an EMDR Clinician”, to find a trained psychotherapist in your area, make an appointment.  Go and make it a gift to you for the holidays.

2. If you don’t have insurance, call your local mental health center to find an EMDR trained psychotherapist  who works on a sliding scale.

3. Be safe.  Do what is safe and good for you during the holidays instead of doing what you think you “should” do.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with new possibilities!

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