Easter holidays may also be a time for reflection and personal growth alongside the Christian lessons it conveys.
As life whirls by, people can often fall into believing they possess superhuman powers. Some people, as psychology tells us, come to phrase their goals/desires in terms of “must necessarily” (i.e. “I must…/Others must…/Life must…”). It is an irrational view, because neither logically, nor empirically or practically does it ensue that if we want something, however intensely, it must inevitably happen. Yet, life constantly points this out to us and, therefore, the conflict between “must” (i.e. “I must be successful and valued by others”) and life (i.e. “I have failed and/or others don’t appreciate me”) results in anxiety/depression/aggressiveness-related distress. By its reflexive and transformational nature, Easter holidays may be an opportunity to re-engage with rationality as outlined in cognitive-behavioural psychology. It is thus perfectly normal to have a broad spectrum of wishes/goals, which are pro-socially desirable, but they should be expressed with flexibility and pragmatism. Rather than thinking “I must absolutely succeed”, you could instead say “I aspire to succeed, I am doing my best, but I accept that it might not happen and I have an alternative plan”. If life also invalidates this rational outlook, you might be worried, but not anxious, you might be sad, but not depressed, you might be dissatisfied, but not aggressive. Whereas anxiety/depression/aggressiveness are unhealthy psychological coping responses – they diminish your quality of life by reducing positive emotions and are no help in coming up with alternative plans to address any challenges in life –, worry/sadness/disappointment are healthy psychological coping responses which prompt you to look for solutions to life challenges, while still allowing you to enjoy other positive things in your life.
We should thus begin to behave rationally, not irrationally, understanding that the mere fact that I desire something does not mean that it must necessarily happen (“I do not need what I want!”), which will not only improve our psychological well-being and efficiency, but also make us happier. Towards this (by no means easy) shift in our mindset, the Easter holidays can play an important part when we come to understand that the phrase “The old has passed away, behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17) can convey both a religious message (for Christians) and a cultural-psychological message (for all people).
Prof. psych. Daniel David, PhD, cor. mem. Romanian Academy