Yehuda Weisbord, LCPC, JCS Therapist
It’s that time of year again. You may be feeling excited, happy, joyous, and are looking forward to fun, and spending time with family. Unfortunately, feelings of anxiety, pressure, or depression are more common around this time of year than one might expect.
Are you one of the many who use the new year as a time of introspection only to feel you’ve inevitably come up short? We had good intentions and plans to change and grow only a year ago, but it seems that we are the same people we were then.
How can we approach this season without getting stuck in what we haven’t done? And how can we think about the coming year in a way that is most likely to result in some positive forward motion on making the changes we want to see?
- We need to realize that we cannot possibly be the same as we were a year ago. Over these past 12 months, there was likely some challenge we met, some pain we endured, something productive we did. Any life event we go through, need that we meet, or friend we support, has an impact on us and on those around us. Even if we just spent the year surviving, that is one more year of emotional effort expended in a positive direction – and that is growth!
- It’s important not to make our sense of self dependent on a specific outcome (e.g., my life will start when I get a new relationship, bigger house, a promotion, lose 20 pounds, etc.). Life is happening now, and we have the option of living it fully in this moment! Even if we haven’t completely achieved our goals yet, it doesn’t mean our lives are meaningless or our value as a person is diminished.
- Once we can accept our current circumstances and become present with our life as it is right now, then we are able to consider what we can do for ourselves to enhance our lives in some way. My suggestion is that rather than needing a specific outcome, the greatest gift we can give ourselves is the commitment to move in a direction that will get us closer to that outcome. There are many obstacles that can keep us from achieving our goals, but what’s important is making the effort if something is important to us. So rather than saying, “I will get a promotion,” maybe start with a commitment to speaking to a supervisor and seeing what you can do to make that a more realistic possibility.
When a situation looks like it’s not going as you may have dreamed, stay committed to taking those small steps toward your end goal. This could even mean re-thinking your original approach to understand what’s not working. It probably won’t come easy. Allow space for the struggle! Rather than believing we should have the ability to overcome all weaknesses in a single bound, realize that challenges make us wonderfully human.
Happy New Year!
Yehuda Weisbord, LCPC, is a therapist at Jewish Community Services.
JCS provides individuals and families throughout Central Maryland with a broad array of services and resources for emotional and behavioral health, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, financial stability, and living with disabilities. To learn how JCS can help you live your best life, please visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.