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OTHER ITA SITES:
Resistance to Celebrating
Some people really love celebrations – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays – while other people seem to dislike them. Derek will tell you that he could go through life very nicely without celebrations. To Derek, celebrations are a bother, a nuisance. They are meaningless and commercialized, created by big business to make money. Derek does not want to fall into the trap of being like everyone else.
Bonnie, Derek’s wife, is just the opposite. She loves celebrations. She loves to buy just the right gifts for people. She loves to celebrate people on their birthdays and anniversaries. She loves Thanksgiving, Christmas, as well as Chanukah, since she is half Jewish. To Bonnie, celebrations are times when she can express her love and appreciation for people and her gratitude for her life. Bonnie is sad that Derek doesn’t like to join her, and often feels lonely at holiday time because Derek is so resistant to celebrating.
How did Derek get this way? What causes him and others to dislike celebrations?
Derek grew up with a very controlling, invasive mother. She tried to control Derek in many areas – how he wore his hair, who he dated, how he spent his time, what courses he took in school, what major he had in college. In addition, she exerted much control over him during celebrations. Not only did he have to get her a terrific present, but whatever he got was never good enough. For Derek, celebrations were not fun at all.
Now, as an adult, Derek is in resistance to being controlled. He has transferred his anger and resistance toward his mother onto society and big business. Now it is society and big business that are trying to control him. Now, because he is an adult, he no longer has to give in as he did with his mother. Now he can resist being controlled.
The problem is that it is not really an adult who is making the decision to hate holidays – it’s a wounded, angry resistant adolescent who just doesn’t want to be controlled any more. Derek actually has a little child inside - the happy, playful, loving child – who would love to be celebrated on his birthday and would love to celebrate others, but this tyrannical, controlling adolescent part of him (who is just like his mother!) won’t let him. So, like Bonnie, his little inner child ends up feeling sad and lonely on holidays and birthdays, while the adolescent part of Derek thinks he is beating the system.
Derek will never be able to experience the joy of celebrations until he starts to care more about what is truly loving to himself and others, rather than being controlled by his resistance to being controlled. As long as not being controlled – by Bonnie, by his mother, or by society and big business – is more important to him than taking care of the little child inside who loves celebrations, Derek will be in resistance.
One way of moving out of this resistance is to find something he does want to celebrate. Can he celebrate his love for his wife? Can he celebrate the loving part of himself? Can he celebrate the fact that he is free to resist and rebel if that is what he wants? Can he celebrate his freedom to choose, his free will to determine what will bring him joy? Derek has the choice to move out of celebrating what others say he should celebrate and discover what he wants to celebrate. Then he might discover the joy of celebrating!
Meanwhile, Bonnie needs to take care of herself and find people who would enjoy celebrating with her. Rather than being stuck in her loneliness around special days, she needs to find friends to celebrate with her. She needs to let go of trying to get Derek to join her – which only taps into his resistance – and figure out how to take care of herself in the face of his choices. She will just lose out if she tries to have any control over his resistance. However, if Derek is open to learning about his resistance and open to learning about what he could celebrate, she can certainly engage in those discussions with him. If she lets go and he opens to exploring, perhaps they can discover new and joyful ways of celebrating!
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