Let’s be honest; Christmas is stressful business! Before you crown me Mr. Grinch, I want to go on record as someone who’s always cherished Christmas. From the time I was a boy, until more recently around the tree in our Kentucky home, celebrating Christmas has always been meaningful; the sound of carols filling the air, the smell of savory Christmastime treats being prepared, Hot Coco Fofo drinks, catching Ms. Elizabeth under the mistletoe and treasuring glimpses of hope reflecting off the eyes of my children. I love Christmas, but sometimes lurking just behind the shadows of all the glittery icicles and wonderment of lights is the Blues; with a capitol B. So the question is, “What’s a person to do when, in the midst of all the running, hustle and bustle of shopping and last minute miracle finishes, the blues hit?” Better yet, “what would you do in the event The Christmas Time Blues struck you?” The answers found by clarifying and understanding the actual question. What are The Christmas Time Blues and more importantly what causes them to seemingly strike during Christmas? Christmas can be stressful. Unrealistic expectations hover over with no visible end in sight. Self inflicted irrational pressures are allowed to dance around in our minds. And then there are the infamous block goals. Something we wanted to happen didn’t or something we would never wish on anyone happened. At this point, it’s important to note, I’m not nearly as concerned about what happened to you as I am about what you believe about what has happened. Simply put, The Christmas Time Blues are more about beliefs and perceptions than what is actually happening or not happening. What you think, right or wrong, powerfully impacts what you believe, which impacts how you act, which impacts how you feel. And how you feel reinforces how you behave. The million dollar question is how can we cure those Christmas Time Blues? The answer comes in the form of a Christmas Miracle! My second son Josh was born with Down’s. I will never forget the day we found out. I was devastated, overwhelmed and felt lost to say the least. These feelings soon turned to anger and disbelief. I was very discouraged. (Overtime Josh taught me discouragement was just self-pity and self-love in disguise.) I repeatedly prayed God would take away my sons Downs, but nothing happened so I changed my prayer to, “God please show me you have a purpose and a plan for Josh’s life.” Christmas was approaching. I found myself shopping with my wife and that’s when it happened. I stumbled onto a little book, entitled, “The Cripple Lamb” that changed everything I believed about my son’s disability; amazingly enough the books about a cripple lamb named Josh who, because of his disability, finds himself in the manger the night Jesus was born. The lamb keeps the newborn King warm with his wool coat and comforts him in a way that stops His crying. Then it hits me; I’ve been so busy fixating (thinking) about my son’s brokenness that I’ve made no space to allow myself to believe in his being. I realized my perception had shaped my beliefs. Josh had been, in my mind, shaped into a Down syndrome boy. (Sympathy says feel sorry for me because I am defined by my condition.) But now, because of the book I was holding, I realized my son was a boy who has Down’s instead of a Down syndrome boy! For the first time I felt hope (believed) that what was happening to my son could have eternal barring on his being; as well as the being of others.(Empathy says understand my being for the sake of empowering me to never be defined by my condition.) The Christmas Time Blues were arrested by changing what I believed about my son’s being over his condition. Empathy holds the cure empowering reason and meaning to be present in others being. What would you do if The Christmas Time Blues, with a Capitol B, paid you a visit this holiday season? Empathy vs Sympathy? There’s really only one cure. Empathy allows us to postpone all judgments for understanding. Understanding empowers us to see and experience what’s happening from another’s vantage point. Experiencing another person’s distress allows us to be part of the solution infusing meaning and purpose into their life. Meaning and purpose allow us to take, otherwise, alien concepts and apply them to all our lives. Through empathy concepts that are ordinarily foreign can be embraced. If we could only see the bigger picture, we would realize He still makes all things beautiful in His time. And Eternity is the time table He uses empathy to perfect all things. Empathy is the cure for The Christmas Time Blues and it’s also why He’s still the reason for ALL seasons.
You are here: / / Shaking The Blues: Choose Empathy over Sympathy
Dr. T. James Kimble LCPC, DCC
Child and Family Counselor