You never thought you would be single—again—and here you are, sitting around wondering what you’re going to do over the holidays. It may have been years since you’ve had to find a date or something to do for New Year’s, or perhaps it’s the first time you don’t have your kids for Christmas.
I vividly remember my first New Year alone following divorce. I was convinced that I needed to find a date because if I didn’t, I would definitely be a loser. But I had no one to ask out, and there were no contenders vying for my company. Then I thought about it more and realized that it wasn’t, in fact, my idea to find a date. It was society’s expectation that I should have something to do, not mine. I’m not sure if it was rebellion or personal choice, but ultimately I made the decision to stay home. I went to the video store and asked the guy to give me the top movies anyone should see in a lifetime. He handed me three black-and-white films from the 1950s and ’60s, and I headed home with a bottle of champagne and a bucket of chicken wings. It was the best New Year I have ever had, and I don’t regret spending it alone.
It’s amazing how much we are conditioned to “be” a certain way so that other people feel comfortable. It makes many people sad to see a grown man or woman alone on a holiday or in a restaurant having dinner. The truth is it’s not your responsibility to keep everyone else comfortable. That’s their expectation of what it should look like, not yours.
I’ve learned to love being alone, going out alone, even eating in restaurants by myself. I meet people, talk to the waiters, and feel grateful that I don’t have to listen to someone else blabber on. I get to choose whatever I’m in the mood for without having to consult or consider someone else.
I’ve learned to appreciate the perks of solitude, which include listening to my own voice, forming my own opinions, remaining open and friendly, and trusting that I know what makes me happy and content. These are gifts that you can learn only after being forced to confront your beliefs and ideas about who or what you are supposed to be.
If you’re facing the holidays as a newly single person, here are a few tips to make the most of the transition:
- Check in with yourself about your beliefs. Be sure that you aren’t holding any cognitive distortions that you picked up throughout your life, and if you are, let them go. Internally, they might sound something like, “Only losers stay home on New Year’s,” or, “Everyone else has something great to do.” These are generalizations that are not only untrue, but will be truly debilitating for you.
- Use the space and time you’ve been given productively and wisely. This is normally a time for deep reflection, so find the blessings in your freedom from distraction and responsibility. Cherish the fact you don’t have to answer to anyone, and that you can create space for your own healing and personal growth.
- Manage your negative thinking and avoid slipping into self-pity or victimhood. You are not the only person alone over the holidays, so be sure to remember the many people who are either worse off or suffering as much. The “poor me” attitude can quickly spiral into depression, so practice gratitude and stay balanced in your emotional pain.
- Whatever you do, make sure it’s a choice. Telling yourself that you are staying in on New Year’s Eve because you couldn’t find anything to do will affect you differently than if you tell yourself you are choosing to have some quiet time. You get to believe whatever you want, so you might as well feed yourself positivity instead of negativity.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Andra Brosh, PhD, BCHN, therapist in Pasadena, California
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.