A Therapist’s Advice on Closing Out the Year
As the sun begins to set on 2023, it’s natural to find ourselves in a reflective state, contemplating the highs and lows that have shaped the past twelve months. It is usually pretty easy to remember the challenges that tested us, brought us sadness, hurt or insecurity. Recovery from these tough times isn’t quick, and it isn’t easy. However, something that may help you in your recovery is being intentional on HOW you reflect.
Here are five ways that you can reflect on your year and hopefully move yourself into a more positive headspace for the year ahead.
- You’ve come a long way!
Take a moment to appreciate the personal milestones you’ve achieved, whether big or small. Perhaps you learned a new skill, overcame a fear, or forged new and meaningful connections. These moments, when acknowledged, serve as stepping stones on the path to personal development. If you are one to set goals, reflect back on the goals you set for yourself last year at this time. Sure, there are some you haven’t met. Put them aside for a second. Ask yourself what you DID achieve? And don’t forget to look at achievements that weren’t even on your radar last year.
- Show yourself some gratitude.
This powerful and transformative emotion helps shape our perspective. YES! It isn’t always easy to pause your negative emotions and focus on recalling the good stuff. However, amidst the uncertainties and turbulence of life, expressing gratitude becomes an anchor. It serves to ground us in the present and fosters a positive outlook. Here’s how: consider the people, experiences, and opportunities that have enriched your life this year. Expressing gratitude internally and in word and deed to others not only benefits your mental and emotional well-being but also strengthens your connections.
- Stop going it alone!
As we navigate life, it’s essential to recognize the collective strength that emerges when we choose to be vulnerable with others whom we trust. Taking the pain you carry inside and sharing it with others will lessen the pain and high-light the resilience and adaptability inherent in each of us. If you share the bad stuff, you will reap the good stuff.
- Remember: you are good, there is good.
We are wired to make generalizations about the stuff we see, hear and experience. Quite often, these generalizations are based upon negative experiences. For example: “EVERYONE who drives on that street is a bad driver” becomes a generalization that is easy to lean on once you have a negative experience. Try to remind yourself that there is no NEVER or ALWAYS. Show yourself some grace for your mistakes and try to identify the good around you.
- Limit your negativity.
Although it appears that the world is becoming increasingly complex, scary and negative, we need to remember that there are many factors contributing to this view. Thanks to technology, the amount of information we receive on a daily basis is staggering. Whether it’s facing a global crisis or overcoming personal hurdles, the spirit of humanity prevails, reminding us that we are capable of surmounting obstacles when we come together. You don’t have to be apprised of every happening in your own life or in the entire world. Do what you can do to keep informed, but also ask yourself: Why do I need to know this? Is this my problem to solve? Remind yourself that knowing does not mean doing.
One final thought: please know that reflecting upon the year can bring out some feelings. The intent of this reflection is not to re-traumatize yourself. However, our minds and hearts are mysterious. You never know then trauma may creep up on you. If this is the case, remember that seeking the support of an experienced, qualified therapist is invaluable to help you process your experiences and learn from them so that you can tackle new challenges and goals feeling strong and confident in yourself.