by Heather Necaise, MS, LPC-S

Reflect for a moment and imagine that someone could see every aspect of your life: your words spoken behind closed doors, every text message you’ve ever sent, hear every phone call you’ve ever made or observe your behaviors when you thought no one was watching. Really imagine.

I can bet the majority of us would have several specific things that immediately come to mind. It may be a disappointing time in your life or a moment of bad judgement. You may be a different person today than you were then, but nonetheless, all these things make up your life. These things do not define us, but they are a part of who we are. More importantly, we have the ability to change; if we choose to do so.

As we inch closer towards the 25th day in December, we continue to be inundated with various concepts geared towards being on our best behavior- with the focus of this behavior being mostly placed on children. The concept of being “naughty or nice”, “getting a stocking full of goodies or coal”, “Santa seeing you even when you’re sleeping” and now, as if Santa watching wasn’t enough, you have the Elf on a Shelf that is watching everything you do!!! But what about our behavior as adults?

I’ve heard it said time and time again that character is what you do when no one is watching. If you imagine, as children do during the holidays, that someone is watching (i.e.-Santa)- would you do things differently? If the answer is yes, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the things you’re doing and make those necessary adjustments to your behaviors. When we reflect, do we see a stocking full of goodies, or that of coal?

This holiday season, let the joy of Christmas extend beyond the red, white and green everything. Let us be mindful of ourselves and let our behaviors reflect the person we desire to be and not just a season of striving to be on the “nice list.” Additionally, our behaviors don’t exist in a vacuum. It is important to be aware of how our behaviors can impact and influence those around us. We each have outstanding capabilities to either inspire or hinder others. It is true: the power of ONE can create immense change; change that can affect one person’s life, an entire family, a corporation, or a country.

For many people, the holidays can be a difficult time. We are currently saturated with “Tis the Season” everything. Christmas parades, Santa pictures being taken in every mall, ugly Christmas sweater parties and dancing snow projectors cast on houses everywhere.  But what we may not see is the display of the wife who lost her husband this year. The family going through a divorce. The child with a broken heart. The person who’s suffering from depression, struggling to live another day. The 82 year old Vietnam vet who was told about his terminal cancer diagnosis. What about the lonely man in the nursing home with no family, or the alcoholic who burned all of his bridges and is now living on the streets? Any one of these people could be us or someone we love- as we all have our own cross to bear.

Give yourself the gift of mental health this season by practicing self-care and healthy behaviors; striving to live better while being mindful of others and their journey. Let this reflection serve as a reminder to live with more intent and nurture your relationship with yourself AND others. Ask yourself: Is what I’m doing today fostering who I want to be tomorrow.

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