How to Go Into the New Year with Hope After A Difficult 2020
Disappointing, anxiety-provoking, upsetting, unpredictable, discouraging, wacky, ridiculous, confusing… these are all words that people used to describe the year 2020. What an odd year. Many people had high hopes for a new decade and one year later, they are realizing that this was the most unprecedented year of their lives.
Well… the good news is you made it! You are strong, resilient, and I am sure that you learned many lessons- whether it be that you are glad that you did not become a teacher after 6 months of homeschooling your child, or that you enjoy working from home and avoiding a commute. If there is one thing that many people have said about this year, along with the adjectives used above – is that this year is one of the numerous lessons.
So what do we do with these lessons from 2020?
When we learn something new, it is only information unless we take the next step to integrate what we gained into our lives. A lesson without action is just an experience. If you want to use your lessons from 2020 to find hope in 2021, one of the best ways to do this is by making your lessons more than just an experience. A lesson with action is a catalyst for hope, change, and a meaningful impact. Here are the steps of what to do with your lessons from 2020 to use them in a productive and applicable way in 2021.
The first step here is to acknowledge these lessons. Now, these lessons don’t need to be a “huge” win, they can be just about anything. It can be lessons you learned about your parenting after spending more time with your kids than you ever imagined you would, lessons that you learned about how you interact in your romantic relationship and what your triggers are – which you may have discovered after existing in the same space as your partner 24/7, or a lesson about how you react to not having control over the decisions being made around you (because let’s be honest – if there’s one thing that we did not have in 2020 it was control over many of the events of the year).
During the step of acknowledging our lessons and insights, we can be hard on ourselves that these lessons had to be centered around achieving or success. This isn’t the case, what you learned from this year can be rooted in just about anything. Lessons to you may look different than they do to another person because the way we lived this past year looked different for each person. Acknowledge and embrace your own lessons and know that they are unique and personal to you. Try your best to not compare yourself to other people, because doing this will deviate from realizing your lessons.
Reflect on What They Taught You About Yourself
The next step is to reflect on what exactly these lessons taught you about yourself. When something sticks with us, it’s because it impacted us in a profound way. Chances are you chose the lesson that you acknowledged in the previous step because it taught you about yourself. Maybe work from home taught you that you value a routine and that routines ground you. Possibly living with your family taught you that you need boundaries in order to feel mentally well. Or perhaps the uncertainty of the year taught you that you struggle with ambiguity and need the comfort of knowing the “next thing”.
Our emotions can be valuable information about how we interact with the world. The way that we feel toward situations and what we gain from them is something that can have a deep emotional impact on us – and something that is worth exploring. What the therapists at BeWELL know is that there were many emotions that came along with 2020. Instead of trying to brush these off, we encourage you to search deeper on your emotional reaction to the lessons you learned taught you about yourself.
How Did the Learned Lessons from 2020 Impact Your Actions?
Now let’s take this another step further. How did what you learned to impact your actions this year? Did you act in ways that moved you toward the self you want to be or away? If your lessons didn’t move you toward a self you wanted to be this year – know that’s okay. It’s difficult to have growth when we are in an environment where it feels chaotic or not conducive to growth. Have self-compassion that it’s okay if you didn’t make any shifts as a result of these lessons – but also have accountability to know how you want the lessons to shift your decisions.
For example, maybe you learned lessons about yourself after living with your partner for the last nine months. After spending a significant amount of time with someone for nine months, chances are you may have discovered habits you weren’t a fan of, things they did that may trigger you, or places that you both disagree with. There are a few ways that you could go with this – and it all depends on the self you want to be and what your values are. If your values are in communicating with authenticity and openness, then inviting the conflict with an open-minded stance may be the action that moves you toward your values.
Remember, it is okay if you acted in ways that you aren’t proud of. As mentioned above, it’s hard to move toward values and meaning when in the midst of a chaotic environment (aka a pandemic). Just reflect on the lessons you learned and how they impacted your actions (don’t forget, with a lot of self-compassion).
What Do You Want to Take Into 2021?
Now to tie this all together – how are you going to take the lessons you gained in 2020 into 2021? What are the ways that you are going to adapt your actions to be in line with your lessons and the person that you desire to be? It’s okay if you may not want to take all parts of 2020 into 2021, it’s normal that there may have been parts that were more meaningful to you and others that weren’t.
Regardless of what you want to take into 2021, stay committed to yourself. You are the expert on yourself, and you have the ability to choose your actions, what you want to commit to, and how you want to move forward from the lesson you learned. Here are some lessons that BeWELL Psychotherapy wants to take into 2021. Share your lessons with us on Instagram at @bewell.psychotherapy.
- It’s okay to take time to slow down. Not every moment needs to have a purpose or be done out of productivity, deadlines, or a goal. Allow yourself to take breaks – your mind and body will let you know when it’s time to slow down. Tune into those messages.
- You are allowed to set boundaries in order to prioritize your mental health. Boundaries look different from situation to situation – and boundaries do not need to be a forever thing. Set boundaries based on where you are mentally and emotionally and know that you are doing it as a form of self-care.
- Engage in the spaces you feel valued and seen and it’s okay to engage less in the space that doesn’t feel as safe. You have the power to show up in spaces more that you feel comfortable and less in those you don’t. People need to earn parts of their authentic self, and if they haven’t earned that – it’s okay to show up however feels right for you.
From the team at our BeWELL Psychotherapy office in NYC, we wish you a safe and happy New Year! If you are struggling this holiday season, know that you are among many. BeWELL Psychotherapy is here to support you through any of life’s difficult moments, help you navigate anxiety and struggle, and help you achieve the self you strive for. Take care of your mental health this upcoming year and schedule a FREE Consultation with a BeWELL therapist today!