A Connected Christmas: The Secret to Avoiding Auto-Pilot and Making the Holiday Meaningful


Christmas is almost here. It’s a day of celebration, gratitude, and connection….at least in theory. I desire these ideals yet too often find myself indulgent and disconnected. Vacations and holidays are historically hard for me. So often, self-care slumps, discipline diminishes, and disconnection dominates. These tendencies are my auto-pilot.

I imagine there are many who start their Christmas day with the “inevitable” indulgences staring them down. Whether it’s the seemingly unavoidable spreads of sugars or numerous other numbing experiences, we all have vices that sing our heart away from meaningful connection. Yet, we still have choices.

Last year, I found myself headed toward that familiar highway to hedonism. I thought, “here we go again”, believing I was cementing a course for the holidays that would leave me disappointed and dissatisfied.

What happened next changed everything. 

I made two moves that turned my heart back to mindfulness and connection.

First, I reached out. I communicated with those I trust about the state of the stirrings in my soul. Then I did something new…something that immediately turned the tables, infusing me with strength and purpose.

I left myself a voicemail.

Not just any voicemail.

This was a message to myself that I had crafted previously. I created this powerful message for moments of disconnection; for anticipated moral emergencies when I knew I was starting to stray. In this message, I shared vivid imagery and meaningful metaphors. I used song lyrics, spiritual symbols, memories of strength and victory, truths I have learned, etc. Basically, I pulled out the “big guns”, communicating everything I knew that would reconnect me with my purpose and everything I hold dear. I spoke this passionate message to myself against the backdrop of a song that always infuses me with strength and a warrior-like attitude. Once I recorded this voicemail and listened to it, that’s exactly what I had.

It carried me through Christmas Eve. I felt connected and in control. I ended the day without regrets.

On Christmas morning, I listened to the voicemail again, with the same effect. It infused me with power, focus, and connection. I anticipated a great day of celebration, gratitude, and connection.

For those interested in making their own message, here are some guiding questions:

  1. What are my recovery and growth goals for this holiday season?
  2. What are some motivating memories that remind me why I’m committed to recovery?
  3. What are my dreams and values?
  4. What music, video clips, or quotes inspire me to live a more meaningful life?
  5. What symbols or imagery remind me of my greater purpose in life?
  6. What signs & triggers might I experience today that will remind me to take a break, practice self-care, and listen to my voicemail again?

Now write a paragraph to yourself based on your answers. Remember, that shaming yourself does not lead to change, but a self-compassionate and encouraging message can infuse you with strength.

Next, call yourself, speak your message, then save this inspirational pep-talk for the future moment you’ll need it.

May we all invest the time to connect with what matters most to us. May it make all the difference, as we experience the joy of a Connected Christmas. Re-connection is always possible…even in this very moment.

Merry Connected Christmas from LifeSTAR of the Central Valley!

For another great article about surviving the holidays, click here

-Written by Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!


This entry was posted in Addiction, Attachment, Change, Food Addiction, Inspiration, Recovery, Self-care, Self-Compassion, Sexual Addiction, Shame and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Connected Christmas: The Secret to Avoiding Auto-Pilot and Making the Holiday Meaningful

  1. Pingback: A Christmas Message to Myself | Write Forest Write

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