So we have reached the time of year when we look back and review what’s happened and plan for the next year.
Firstly, we need to be gentle on ourselves. So much can be out of our control, especially our health, and as long as we tried our best when and where we needed to, that is all that matters.
It’s pretty hard to look back on a disappointing year, when nothing went your way and felt like a struggle to get through. What makes it worse is looking online at people bragging about their achievements for the year.
Be warned: There will be an influx of posts on social media this New Year’s Eve about what they achieved admisted a global pandemic; learning a new skill or making sourdough. To get through the year with our minds and bodies in survival mode is incredible; we don’t need to feel that we didn’t do enough in comparison, especially if we are also dealing with medical conditions or other stressors in our lives. Be mindful of your social media intake at the end of this year. Does what you see make you feel good, or unproductive, or less than? Taking a news and social media break might be the best thing to calm our overactive minds and bodies after the year we have all had.
Secondly, we need to remind ourselves that most of our prized accomplishments in our lives are invisible. When we start to look at our achievements over a time period, we usually start by naming the obvious and conventional successes – the things that we had won or created. It’s only when we dive deeper into the reflection activity that we realise that what we most value as our accomplishments, are the things that we survived, how we moved from an unbearable place to something better, or felt like we were managing better where we were. Most of the time it is our inner work that feels like our major achievement.
The term ‘2020’ is now synonymous with ‘anything and everything that is going wrong, blame it on the year and write it off’. Which does work to a certain point – it has been a rather chaotic and anxious year for everyone. However, unfortunate things happen every single year and by dismissing it as ‘only this year’s problem’, it stops us from reflecting on both what we could learn from challenges, and reminisce on the good things that we experienced this year.
It’s the good things that give us strength to continue, so it is vital that we try to acknowledge the light in a dark year. We have to remind ourselves of the good things that happened and be grateful for them; firstly, for the short term benefits of basking in the happy memories, and secondly, to help us face the next year which may be very similar but we know that there will be good moments amongst the struggle.
It may be too much to ask for a good year every year. We may need to appreciate having good moments in our days or weeks or months, rather than a huge ‘always good’ year.
Take some quiet time before the year is finished to reflect on all the moments in the year, either in a journal or talking with your loved ones.
This year, raise a glass to how you have weathered it, however you got through it. We can’t beat ourselves up over this year because we are going to need our strength for next year too. This is the mighty marathon, not a sprint.
If anything, 2020 showed us what truly matters to us and everything we have that we are grateful for.
Take heart, Readers. I’ll keep the light on.