The holidays can create difficult emotional states for many people. The hype and expectations surrounding this time period are intense. Commercials and movies emphasize happy, loving families enjoying their time together and couples in cozy, warm images of endless love.

But what about those people whose lives don’t match these images? What about the widowed, single and those separated from loved ones due to circumstance or distance? They’re often made to feel badly about their state of “aloneness” at this time of year.

There’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely. As an only child of deceased parents, I’m thankful I don’t hold these mental constructs. Maybe I’m accustomed to being alone. I’ve grown to like my own company. Regardless of my personal history, I’m not bothered by solitude. I relish it. However, I’m keenly aware of those who don’t share my attitude and I know the amount of sadness that they can feel during the holidays. How could they not?

The “Perfect Holiday Myth” insists everyone else is having a better time than we are. Other families are kinder, more loving and in better spirits than ours. Other men give their women diamond necklaces to prove their love. Other people are gathering with their friends to laugh, eat and enjoy each other’s company. Everyone seems to be somewhere, happily involved with those they love.

Being able to be happy during the holidays is a direct response to the way we envision what everyone else is doing. We assume other people are having fun. We assume everyone else is partnered. But, is that true?

The reality of life is that we have all have great moments and less than desired moments. We may find ourselves with family members that delight us, and those we must learn to accept as they are. We may be partnered or find ourselves going solo this season.

Few of us are living a Norman Rockwell Christmas. Nor does everyone get to kiss the partner of his or her dreams at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Yet, the commercial messages continue to pummel us with images of happy couples enjoying the happiest of times, together. How does one internalize all these messages of togetherness and translate that into the realm of being solo?

Firstly, we need to understand that we are all singular in our reality. Though we want to believe we’re like others, we’re each autonomous. We’re living our own version of life and interpreting its value via our own perspective. We’re where we are, in this moment. And perhaps, at this particular moment in time we’re alone.

Being alone doesn’t need to mean “lonely.” It could mean “with ourselves.” Why do we automatically assume that being a single person means separation? Separation from the self is the issue, not separation from others. Only when separated from ourselves do we experience a separation from all of Life.

Creating a mental shift from “lonely” to “with yourself” begins with the language you’re using. Instead of saying you’re “alone” during the Holidays, say you’re “with yourself.” Secondly, see the aggressive marketing surrounding holidays for what it is… an inducement to buy products and services. Don’t confuse the quality of your life with what merchants are pushing to make you believe you lack.

There’s no need to cave into negativity during the holidays. Don’t be seduced into feeling that everyone’s living a happier life than you. That’s a fallacy. There are times in all of our lives when we’ll find ourselves alone. The duration may be short or long. It’s a part of our life transit.

To be “alone” is simply the recognition of the absence of others. It doesn’t mean you’re unwanted. It doesn’t mean you’re unloved. Being alone is a temporary state that’s subject to change at any time.

Feeling lonely during the Holidays is simply a perception. It’s not the truth of your life or who you are. You’re with yourself. And that’s certainly fine company, if you allow it to be.

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