By Maria Silvia Paoli, Certified Life Coach
I am a Venezuelan who immigrated due to the political and socioeconomic situation. I am also a coach working with clients all around the globe. Many Venezuelan immigrants live in different countries. I have experienced firsthand the consequences of living in exile, both on a personal and a business level.
Christmas is an especially sensitive time of year. As immigrants, we see all kinds of struggles. But those are the very special aspects that make us human. We are emotional beings with an unstoppable search for closeness and affection from others.
Christmas has always been a holiday when we stop our daily routine to spend time with family and friends. Even when families get together, this time of year can be a moment when positive and negative emotions grow. We can experience stress and anxiety during this time because there are a lot of things to do, presents to buy, food to prepare, gatherings to attend, etc. We can also experience joy, happiness, and relaxation. This holiday also has a nostalgic connotation because we remember our loved ones who have passed away.
In the case of immigrants, there is the added stress of family separation, sometimes living in different countries or cities, and the lack of opportunities to get together.
In my practice as a coach, I have seen all types of complicated situations. For example, people suffering from extreme loneliness. I have seen many people suffering from sadness and depression around this time. For many immigrants, Christmas has become a difficult time of year instead of a moment of release and celebration.
I have also seen clients that put a huge effort to get together with their loved ones, regardless of the barriers, limitations, and sacrifices they have to make. These challenges and the importance of the holiday allow people to get creative. They find ways to demonstrate they care for others in all sorts of ways:
- making big surprises,
- sending special gifts, and
- finding new ways to connect with families through technology.
There is no doubt that the Christmas holiday is a special time of year. However, immigrants can also face many challenges. What I have found is that underneath all the struggles and suffering, as human beings,
- we have a need to have contact with others,
- we have a need to spend time with people we care about, and
- we have a ceaseless desire for connection.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control how you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is” – Unknown