BeingWell
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BeingWell

Holidays, Cultural Differences and Chronic Pain

What’s the connection? Read on…

photo by author

As a culturally Jewish person living in a predominantly Christian country, Christmas time can bring up complicated feelings for me.⁠

As a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors whose recent ancestors were persecuted for being different from those who celebrate Christmas, the pressure to participate in America’s most popular national holiday can feel like pressure to betray my heritage.⁠

At the same time, those very feelings I described above can feel like a betrayal of the connection I cherish with friends and family-by-love who celebrate Christmas — and who generously and lovingly include me in that joyous celebration.⁠

Why am I writing about this topic, when I usually write about chronic pain recovery?⁠

Because no matter your culture or identity, if you struggle with chronic pain (and I’ll go even a step further — if you are a human being) you can likely relate to this type of dilemma:⁠

When you feel as though there’s a conflict between your desire to individuate and your desire to be part of a community (and we all experience this conflict in one way or another) it can be a trigger for symptoms like anxiety and chronic pain.⁠

Why? Because it creates an inner tension between two very important needs: Our need for autonomy and our need for social connection. Put another way: Our need for self-acceptance and our need for social acceptance, or our need for self-love and our need for shared love.⁠

It’s this tension that is so often at the root of chronic symptoms.⁠

Finding a harmonious integration of both important needs is an ongoing journey of discovery and growth for me. I don’t have all the answers, that’s for sure. But one thing that feels truer and truer to me is this:⁠

If I start by being kind toward myself and welcoming in each and every one of my different feelings, greater intimacy with others becomes possible.⁠

What wisdom have you learned in your journey with these questions?

Whether this season brings you joy — or stress — or all of the above…

Whether it’s a time that you spend surrounded by people and all of the complicated, delightful and difficult dynamics of groups…

Or a time that you spend alone…

Whether it’s a time when you celebrate holiday traditions…

Or a time when you feel surrounded by others who are celebrating holiday traditions that are not your own…

Whatever kind of time this is for you…

This is my gift to you: A little 9-minute break from it all with this free body scan meditation. We could all use a restorative moment, couldn’t we?

Sending warmth 💗 support 🙌 and gentleness ✨ your way.

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A Medika Life Publication for the Medical Community

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Anna Holtzman

Anna Holtzman

Chronic pain recovery therapist and coach. www.annaholtzman.com IG @anna_holtzman

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