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Surviving the "happiest" time of the year

Aly Walansky is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She lives with her two Shorkie-Tzus, Scarlette and Max, and a display of pink polka-dot-themed home decor -- not to mention a selection of flavored vodka. Check out he...

Bah, humbug!

For all the promises of joy, peace and harmony that come with the holiday season, the reality for millions of people is that the season is anything but a celebration. For many, it’s a reminder of lost loved ones, personal disappointments and dreams left unfulfilled.

Depressed woman at holiday table

That's according to life coach Teri Johnson, whose personal journey through an imperfect life now inspires others to reach for the lives they've always wanted. Life may have dealt you your fair share of negative "nevers" and that's where the healing starts. By confronting a never-ending and unproductive cycle of negativity, the elusive joy of the holiday season can be found not just now but every day of the year, says Johnson, author of the newly released book Overcoming the Nevers.

"You never thought you'd get divorced, but you did. You never dreamed you would find yourself in an abusive relationship, but you are. You never thought you would need to lose 200 pounds, but you do. And you never thought you'd be 45 years old without a job, losing your home and drowning in debt, but you are," says Johnson.

"We start to believe lies about ourselves, such as 'I'm not good enough' or 'I'm undeserving.' We escape our pain and these toxic feelings turn into unhealthy behaviors and addictions. There is freedom from the struggle; there is hope in discovering the truth; there is a way to fall in love with who we are to experience a joy-filled season, and more importantly a joy-filled life."

Johnson's tools for overcoming the "nevers" that drag many down during the holiday season are:

  • Acceptance: Do you have the strength to make the changes necessary to turn a situation around through an attitude of acceptance? Or will you remain powerless, remain in the state of non-acceptance and let everything around you dictate how you feel? The journey starts with accepting that you can't change others, but you do have power over your own life.
  • Surrender: What we surrender ourselves to ultimately becomes our god, and what we turn to or upon which we rely. The question then is: What are we surrendered to? Is it something firm, solid and long-lasting or something that hurts us in the end?
  • Joyfulness: Hold tight to your unique gifts and talents to enrich your own life and impact the lives of those around you. Build on what you're good at, what makes you special and what makes you feel good about yourself.
  • Discovery: Confronting the truth about who we are deep inside helps us overcome our painful past and discover the basis for those "nevers."

Johnson explains that the process of confronting internal struggles and the "nevers" of life isn't easy. Keep in mind, though, that no treatment program, no diet and no New Year's resolution can be successful without breaking down the essence of individual struggles and making the necessary adjustments to attain the life you deserve.

"If the life you are living is full of unacceptable and disappointing things and you don't want to spend another year like this, the only thing holding you back right now is your own confusion, self-doubt and anger," she says.

"You don't have to keep doing what you're doing or feeling what you're feeling, but you do need to come to terms with yourself and surrender yourself to faith that there is a better way."

More holiday stress reads

How to survive the holidays without your family
Surviving the holidays post-divorce

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