That 2020 has been difficult is a vast understatement.
You most likely experienced loss this year that you have never experienced before. You may have lost your job; your kids may have switched to online school; you may have picked up unhealthy coping mechanisms; you may find that your healthy coping mechanisms are no longer working for you. You may have lost friends and loved ones suddenly and without the ability to say goodbye or have a service.
So this year, I’m going to be a bit inconsistent…for a while. And I’m going to change what I wrote last week.
This year, consider NOT creating New Year's Resolutions…at least for a while.
Usually, a new year presents itself with new opportunities. However, 2021 is different. We are bringing the Pandemic into January, with a likely increase in cases due to people traveling for the holidays. In fact, the first half of 2021 may look remarkably like 2020.
And if you are experiencing anxiety and depression due to the events of this year, you may be creating New Year’s resolutions as a way to help yourself heal.
However, here’s a thought!
Consider waiting a bit before creating those resolutions for yourself.
Let’s face it! If you have anxiety and depression, you may have limited amounts of energy to expend. Testing out brand-new habits may be too much right now. You want to set yourself up for success instead.
So…focus on self-compassion.
Instead of setting goals for yourself in 2021, consider just focusing on self-compassion.
The purpose of self-compassion is extending kindness to yourself. You treat yourself as if you were your best friend. Not only does self-compassion help you feel better, but it also leads to greater compassion for others.
When you practice self-compassion, you care for yourself even when things are difficult. You care for yourself even when you feel you are the source of the difficulty. You can take a step back and see that you may not be responsible for an event happening, where before you would have blamed yourself unnecessarily.
How do you practice self-compassion? I always recommend praying first…to the Lord who loves you in a way that is beyond understanding. You can immerse yourself in His love for you by exploring the book of Psalms.
In addition, some forms of mindfulness meditation may be helpful, along with understanding that you are an imperfect human being that is allowed to make mistakes. You are also allowed to expand your comfort zone, preferably in a healthy way. When you encounter hardships, you focus on what you have learned from the experience, rather than beating yourself up about your decisions. Just the simple practice of focusing on inhaling and exhaling while taking deep breaths can help calm your mind and soothe you.
Self-compassion can contribute to improved emotion regulation. Emotion regulation is the ability to have control over how you are feeling. With good emotion regulation, you are able to reduce your anxiety or anger through coping techniques, such as viewing events differently.
Try practicing self-compassion rather than setting resolutions at the beginning of 2021. You can always set resolutions later in the year — they don't have to start on January 1st.
And remember this, dear reader! Your brain can be your best friend. It can be your pal, our buddy, your comrade and your chum. And here’s the WONDERFUL thing. It is YOU who gets to decide what it is going to be!
And your brain believes you…without question. (Where have I heard THAT before?)
So…begin 2021 with self-compassion. Let’s face it…it has been a HARD year, and all of us deserve it!
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available online at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5007.