The Season of Light

The holiday season is meant to be light: a collective festive mood as one year closes and a new one begins.

And, yet, the holidays can be stressful. It can be a time when buried emotions come to the surface as we spend time with loved ones.

For me, such emotions have come with a revelation: It has dawned on me that when you have spent so much of your life fighting to be who you are and to be respected, it can be hard to stop fighting.

When you reach a point where you no longer have to fight to be heard, how will you recognize that you have arrived there, and how will you adjust?

This is when the practice of mindfulness, which is a practice of reflection, comes in handy. You have to wake up and be aware that you have cultivated the capability to deal with your circumstances. You have to trust in your ability to comprehend when an adjustment is needed in your attitude, your approach or your environment.

When we are used to fighting to be heard, this can complicate our life needlessly when fighting is not necessary and we fail to realize it.

I believe it is essential to know how to fight and to have the courage and the will to fight when needed, but to reflexively use fighting as a blunt tool is maladaptive. You end up with a you-against-the world mentality–and that’s not the reality of our existence.

Our existence comprises us living in the world, not against it.

If you fight for the sake of fighting, you are failing to discern what is worth fighting for and what is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

To fight just for the sake of fighting is not to be a warrior, it is to be a fool prone to anger because you don’t realize how anger is controlling you.

Anger is useful: It is an emotion that springs from an underlying fear, and it’s important to your mental health to discover what that fear is and what is at the root of that fear. For example, a common root of anger is the fear of not being understood. Another common root is the fear of not being respected, which, deeper at its root is the fear of not being valued, which is related to perception of self-worth.

Having the skills and the will to fight can get you a long way–but to go farther, you have to balance that inner fire with understanding of yourself, of others and of the dynamics of relationships.

To be strong and intelligent without wisdom is to be doomed to self-sabotage.

This, then, is the ultimate fight: the daily battle to cultivate our better nature.