How might your experience of the holidays change if you mentored yourself with love this year instead of with judgment?

Oh boy.

The holidays are here.

And so is the holiday food.

For those of us with eating disorders, any date with the word “holiday” in it is not necessarily a reason to rejoice. For many of us, the approach of a holiday can even induce panic.

This is where mentoring can really come in handy.

For quite some time I had a personal tradition of spending my pre- and post-holiday gatherings on the phone or texting with my mentor, gathering up my courage to approach the table, the food, the guests. She was always so kind and reassuring to me, regardless of how fearful or frustrated I got towards myself.

After a few consecutive years of this, with her consistent modeling of self-kindness as my guide, I found that I had become strong enough that I no longer needed much more than an exchange of “happy holidays” with my mentor before the festivities began – it was enough to just know she was there and that I felt connected to her should I have need of her support.

As my mentor taught me, not only can the mentoring support we receive from significant relationships give us the courage to change our relationship with the holidays themselves, but this experience can also teach us how to mentor ourselves more conscientiously than perhaps we have done in years past.

We can be more mindful of how we talk to ourselves when stressful situations arise. Are we judging ourselves, or encouraging? Censuring, or cheering ourselves on? Is our tone sweet, or caustic? Do we empathize, as we would with a struggling friend, or are we running our own survival-of-the-fittest boot camp for one?

The holidays are really a time to test our mettle and see what we’re made of, to challenge ourselves to use all of our available resources to their maximum capacity – and that includes inner as well as outer and relational resources.

We can give ourselves the ultimate holiday gift by pulling out all the stops on our own behalf, aiding and abetting our own recovery efforts by celebrating small and great victories, brushing off defeats, and remembering throughout that “the holidays” is just another season of life – like all things, in fairly short order, this too shall pass.

Today’s Takeaway: As the holiday season approaches, consider what your recovery fears are. Then consider what your recovery hopes are. Then consider your other fears and hopes. Write them out if this is helpful. Then write out the dates that encompass the holiday season. Count up the days. That is the total amount of time “the holidays” will be with you. Consider writing out pre-New Year’s resolutions for how you are going to maximize the support available to you – from others and yourself – to befriend yourself during this traditionally stressful time. Each night, write a few lines in your journal about victories and moments of joy that you are proud of and treasure.