About this time of year, every year, many of us hit our “winter wall”. The winter wall is that moment when you start to think that you can’t stand another moment of gray, or cold, or short dark days. We know intellectually that the days have been getting longer since December 22nd, but it doesn’t always feel like it. We get sick of trudging through slush and eating our way through the long, dark evenings. We recognize that February is short, but the rest of winter still stretches out before us uninvitingly.
But what is a wall, really? A wall is a barrier, and depending on which side you are on, it can protect us, keep us warm, keep us from seeing things that are out “there” that we don’t want to face. In mental health we talk about psychological or emotional “walls” that people build in self-defense and as coping mechanisms. Walls are there for a reason. Sometimes the reason is still healthy and valid, and sometimes it is from an old belief that has been long outdated.
So why do you have a “winter wall”? Is it standing between you and the next cycle of your life? Is it stopping you from enjoying the rest of this season and leaving you longing for the next? Or is it supporting you so you can rest through this season and be fresh in the next one? Look again at your winter wall. Look at it from all sides and angles. Stand on top of it and peer over the edge. What is it really doing for you? Is it holding you up? Is it keeping you safe? Or is it preventing you from enjoying this moment that you are in? Are you giving yourself permission to scale the wall or knock down the wall? Are you giving yourself permission to need that wall?
There are no right or wrong answers. But take a look at your winter wall and what you are really experiencing this time of year, whether you are struggling to make it through each day or whether you are realizing that you only have a matter of weeks left for skiing. Then give yourself permission to rest, or play, or enjoy, or feel sad. Give yourself permission to just “be”, wherever that is for you.
Perhaps that winter wall isn’t something you are slamming into. Perhaps it is your fortress holding you up until you get to a different place. Perhaps it is your challenge, something to scale or overcome. Whatever you discover when you examine your winter wall will be the right answer for you.