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How I Stopped Hating Winter And The Seriously Amazing + Unexpected Result It Had In My Life

The moment we acknowledge the invincible summer within us, the light edges closer, and the temperature goes up ever so slightly. Keep tending that inner flame, and soon there will be enough light and heat to cheer not only you, but everyone around you. ~ Martha Beck in “Coping with a February”

I haven’t hated winter my whole life…it’s only been in the past 15 years or so. And I am not even sure why I started hating it.

I do know that part of the hate came from what I assumed to be SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Winter is depressing, right? It’s cold and dark. BAH!

And part of it came from an increase in anxiety, especially around being sick, and specifically stomach bugs.

(If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you’ve read about this crazy puke phobia thing I had, which terrified and paralyzed me to the point where I’d start to think I’d become one of those people who never leaves their house.)

Some of the things I did to try and overcome the anxiety include using a SAD (light therapy) lamp, Emotional Freedom Technique, thought coaching, and traditional talk therapy.

Now, I am not saying that those things didn’t “work” because they did, but what I know now is that they didn’t work in a way that I thought they would. They didn’t make the anxiety go away, they helped calm me so that I could understand two important things:

1. I had to stop approaching it from the perspective of wanting someone else to “fix” me and, and…

2. I had to be ready to stop actively hating (resisting) winter.

And if you’re a winter-hater, why stop? Because hating winter is fun, right? Everyone bonds over it. Just Google “I hate winter” and see what comes up.

I don't know how to give credit to the original photographer, but I couldn't find him/her.

But here’s the thing: when I stopped actively hating winter, my anxiety dissipated. Really and truly. While I can’t say the puke phobia thing is completely gone, it’s greatly reduced. It’s a freaking miracle.

So how did I stop hating it?

I stopped talking about hating it, I stopped staying “I hate it,” I stopped complaining about it, and I stopped engaging in conversations with others about hating it. Basically, I stopped focusing on it.

As a result – almost magically it seems – this helped me stop making winter equal anxiety. And as a result of THAT, I am getting more exercise than I would normally get during the winter (even with my frozen shoulder recovery), I am eating well, sleeping better…and so on. And we all know what that means.

Because what I see now (in hindsight, of course), is that the more I hated (and complained about) winter, the more anxious I got, and the more anxious I got, the more I hated (and resisted) winter.

Resistance is the fuel of anxiety.

P.S. I don’t love winter. I don’t gush with joy over a forecast for yet more snow. That I was able to stop hating winter during this specific winter (which has been one worst in recent memory), is especially notable. Like Martha suggests, instead I focus on the invincible summer within.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” ~ Albert Camus

What are you resisting? How’s that working for you?

6 Comments

  • Posted February 21, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    LOVE this Karen. I know, what you focus on becomes all consuming. This has been the worst winter in recent memory, for most everyone. But, it’s time to let it go. Mentally at least.
    Thanks!
    b

  • Posted February 22, 2014 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    I know this only partially about winter, and more about letting go. I respond on the surface subject of winter.

    Fifteen years ago at the age of 40 I was shoveling snow at 4am in the Colorado where I was raised. I came in from the cold, put down my shovel, and exclaimed to my wife and child, “Never again”.

    Three months later we were living in rural San Diego, and ready for the adventure of our lives, and No. More. Winter.

    What I have learned in these 15 years is that winter builds character. It is the dark that makes the light appreciable, and the cold that makes the sun’s rays sooth. Winter is harsh, and there is a context in accepting and overcoming harsh to better appreciate smooth.

    I learned this partially from myself, but more so from comparative observations between those who have lived in cold climates for extended periods, and those who have not.

    I will be moving back to Colorado in the next couple of years, and though I have no illusion that I will embrace shoveling snow, I will appreciate it more, and be in the company of people who are willing to stick it out, and the character and hardiness they exude.

    Peace

  • Posted February 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I could definitely identify with this post especially this year with the broken foot and the fear/anxiety of falling. I agree with the “not hating winter” as I find anything I say I hate just amplifies those feelings. But I think I too am in the mind that the changing seasons does go with the good/bad of life as it does make us appreciate the warmer weather when it gets here so much more. Your post was so timely too with my post yesterday about my first walk since my broken foot :) I was definitely appreciating the warmer weather and sunshine. I don’t know if you’ve had a warmer day there but hopefully you have or will soon. Appreciation/gratefulness is definitely high on my list to being happy :)

  • Posted February 24, 2014 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I LOVE winter. Of course our winters aren’t that cold here in Australia – particularly where I live (we don’t get any snow etc), but I hate summer. I hate being hot all of the time and I hate being sweaty. I don’t have cool enough clothes, whereas I love rugging up in winter.

    However… back to the lesson, that self-talk thing is SO important. I need to change some of the internal and external conversations I have about certain things. I’m aware of the fat-talk stuff, but I express a lot of other negativity which I could work on!

    Deb

  • Posted February 24, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    ((TIP TOES AWAY TO THINK))

  • Posted February 26, 2014 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    It is not working… I bet you guessed that! :)

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