New year, same you

As we leave Christmas Day behind us and start to look into the new year, it’s only natural to begin to reflect. After all, winter is a time for introspection, hibernation, and rest. However, for so many of us, this reflection takes the form of self-criticism disguised as false motivation. Spending time with family, friends, and colleagues through the festive period can bring up huge amounts for us - family feuds or dysfunction may have been present, perhaps more subtle forms of negativity such as body, career, or life-stage shaming from relatives. We may feel old wounds that have surfaced during this time, or felt feelings of inadequacy surface from being (humanly) imperfect.

We don’t have to look far to begin to feel preyed on by advertisers and marketers at this time, encouraging us to lose weight, earn more, be more; basically, to be anyone but who we are. All these messages are designed to offer a solution to our pain - our pain of not feeling good enough, preying on our vulnerabilities, particularly after these vulnerabilities have come to the surface.

Winter is a time for introspection, however, as a culture, we do not value this period. The pressure continues to get out, socialise, consume, and become more something. The animal kingdom knows what to do, yet us humans have lost our way.

As with any full circle of anything - life, season, project - there is always a period of rest due. Winter is the time to take that rest, to use the cue from the darkness of the sky, the coldness of the air, and the warmth of the indoors to guide us inwards.

So what can we reflect on as this year ends and we welcome in the new? I invite you to take just 10 minutes to ponder these 10 questions for self, and, if time allows, more.

1. What are you proud of from the past year? No doubt there have been challenges that you’ve overcome; what do you need to honour for yourself in how you’ve managed this? Notice the resistance to feel self-pride if there is any, let it pass, and come back to a sense of goodness for self.

2. What do you identify helped you to overcome this challenge; what need was being met for you to do so? If you maintained a boundary for instance, how did you provide yourself with the self-value to maintain that boundary?

3. What challenges do you feel you could have managed better?

4. What need was unmet that prevented you from managing that challenge? Perhaps your anger overtook you in an emotional relationship, and being more emotionally supported would have helped you to manage those big feelings better.

5. Can you show compassion to self whilst taking responsibility for your behaviour, and commit to understanding why you behaved in that way, showing empathy to your wounded self below that anger?

6. What value or moral commitment do you want to make to self this year? This must be non-judgemental - 'losing weight' or 'being more successful' is not a value or moral commitment. Be kinder to yourself through loving, body-neutral self-talk, or set realistic work-life balance goals to meet passion/soul needs.

7. What relationships served to support you over the past 12 months? What input and commitment do you need to continue to make to those relationships successful and mutually nourishing over the next 12 months?

8. What relationships no longer serve your ability to be authentic, heard and seen, as well as to show your compassion and empathy?

9. What do you need to let those relationships go, or move them into a more honest and authentic space?

10. Identify, at this moment right now, what do you need to give yourself (permission, courage, or compassion) to acknowledge for yourself you are doing the very best you can right now, with the skills you have and the environment you’ve been in up to this point in your life? Take this moment to feel good enough right now. (Thoughts and hopes of the future being different may arise, however, let those pass).

Feeling good enough right now with who you are is the key to both self-acceptance and the ability to move forward. Nurture of the self is the most rewarding and efficient way to not only self-love but to experience self-growth, success, and ultimately a sense of good enough happiness.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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