'Tis the Season

seasonal depression

It’s always a season.

Every moment of our lives is part of one season or another. Some seasons are longer than others and some seem indefinite, but we can always count on the fact that whatever season we are in will eventually change. And every aspect of our lives has seasons: we have seasons with our kids depending on their ages and stages, we have seasons with our friends where people come and go, we have seasons where we are flourishing and most things fall into place, and we have seasons that bring us to our knees because everything seems hard.

It’s difficult to remember that all seasons are and always will be temporary; nothing lasts forever. We get stuck on the idea of the good seasons, wanting them to never end because we feel entitled to the good season- that’s where life should stay. We think when things are good, we’re good, we’re OK. Which in turn means, if things are bad then we’re bad; then why would we want to let go of the good seasons? As I am certain we all know the truth on some level:

All seasons come with good AND bad, and we perform well AND horribly in all those seasons.

We live in dichotomy but there is something about the human brain that wants to choose one or the other. The brain is unsettled dealing with both sides of life simultaneously.

The dichotomy we live means we’re always performing well and poorly in different aspects of our lives in a single season. Sometimes there’s more good than bad, and sometimes it’s the opposite. Regardless, both good moments and bad moments are present in every season of life regardless of how one sided it seems.

The question then is how to we learn to live in this dichotomy?

For what it’s worth, here’s my advice from my time contemplating this truth.

Acceptance: Accept that there is always good and bad in all seasons and situations. We live in dichotomy and that is OK!

Awareness: Be aware of the soundtrack of our own minds when things seem one sided. Pay attention to our tendency to overplay the stronger feeling so frequently that we seem to be holding on tight to the season. This does happen in both good and bad. During the good we don’t want to let go of good, during the bad, we don’t trust things to get better. The longer we’ve been in a season, the truer this rings.

Gratitude: Be grateful for the good things happening even if they seem few and far between. Also, spend time being thankful for the hard times because you will grow more from those bad moments and hard times than the good moments. Ironically it’s harder to be grateful for the bad things during good times than during the bad times. However, it will do more for a balanced perspective in the good times so we don’t get too married to those good times.

Be present: Be present and allow yourself to experience the good moments and the bad moments fully! And during some seasons that all happens within seconds. Laugh until you cry or scream until you smile, but experience every feeling, every emotion. The more of life that is experienced in the present moment, the more quickly you learn and move through the season.

Set limits: When things get hard or bad, it can feel like the season is indefinite and may, in fact, never end. If you feel this way, it’s time to set a limit. Make a pact with yourself by saying “I am going to give myself a month to fumble through this season. After a month it’s over or I am reassessing.” In a month, if it is not over, reassess where you are compared to where you started and set another limit. Our brains handle finite periods of distress better than indefinite periods. And the limit can be an hour or a day if a month is too long. Just choose what you need to get through that time.

Remember: Like our four seasons (or a kidney stone), this too shall pass….

Relish is the good moments so you don’t lose sight of all you have to be grateful for, and accept the bad moments as life’s classroom.

Enjoy this crazy ride we call life, people. We just never know which season will be our last!