Twelve Insights to Take into the New Year

2014 written in beach sandIt’s that time of year. Everyone is publishing “best-of-2013” lists. Here are some general revelations I have been honored to witness this year—in myself, clients, friends, and family. (In the interests of confidentiality, none are direct quotes or attributable to one person.) May they inspire and enlighten you as well.

  1. Compassion for myself/being kind to myself/befriending myself really does help any situation. And it makes me much kinder to others. Just thinking of how I would talk to a child or small animal in difficulty helps me generate compassion. Slowing down and taking time and space for myself helps. Cutting the thread of the looping negative thoughts without hesitation or criticism helps—just a quick snip of the mental scissors when I see those thoughts arise.
  2. I have more tools than I realized. My skills are transferable from one area to another. I can use my editing/cooking/gardening/mechanical skills to work through this issue. Think in metaphors and eliminate the unnecessary words, thoughts, or worry. Put my work or issue away for a time and then look at it with fresh eyes. Read through the recipe or situation ahead of time to make sure I have the ingredients and tools to succeed. Prepare the ground according to the needs of what I want to reap, then sow the seeds, tend the beds, and have patience. Watch and listen carefully, without judgment, in order to diagnose the source of the trouble, and then address it. Troubleshoot using a process of logical elimination. Understand that I might need to borrow tools and use my resources. Recognize that everything is a process, that obstacles will arise along the way, and nothing is ever completely finished.
  3. Just sitting and being present with my feelings without an agenda or expectations helps me to deal with them. Most of the time, they will resolve on their own. No matter how sad or hurt or angry I feel, it doesn’t last forever. Letting myself just feel it helps it pass through me more easily. Sometimes there is nothing for me to do, no action to take, no need to decide right this minute. I can wait and see.
  4. It’s OK to cry. In fact, it helps. Who knew?
  5. Focusing on my own actions/thoughts/feelings and taking responsibility for them is much more productive and empowering than worrying about what other people are thinking/feeling/doing. I have control over only (some of) myself.
  6. There is no such thing as perfect, no matter how much I have invested in hoping to get there someday. Which, unfortunately, means I have to rethink my entire life’s purpose. Phooey.
  7. I feel better if I do some art (writing, movement, take a nap, music, reading, etc.) most days. When it is hard to get going, for whatever reason, starting with the smallest increment I can imagine really helps. Like drawing one line, painting a one-inch square one color, writing one word, taking one step, lying down for one minute, singing one note, or reading one sentence. And saying to myself, “This counts.” Because it does.
  8. Accepting things as they are is not the same thing as giving up or saying it is OK with me. Resistance to what is actually happening creates a lot of unnecessary suffering and gets in the way of doing something about it.
  9. It’s OK to relax, take a break, cut myself some slack, not be perfect, forgive myself. I won’t just lay in bed forever/become lazy/rest on my laurels. In fact, I gain more energy for my life and relationships, and my sense of self-worth improves, when I have some down time, particularly if I do it out of self-compassion.
  10. Other people really want to help me, and they are glad when I let them. Asking for help may be scary and receiving can be hard, but it makes life richer and easier, and besides—it is only fair. Why deny others the same pleasure I get from helping them?
  11. Meditating regularly, even if it is only five minutes a day or so, really helps me stay balanced and keep my perspective. It works even better when I don’t beat myself up for not doing it.
  12. There is nothing wrong with me. Really.

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Ker Cleary, LPC, therapist in Eugene, Oregon

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • riley

    December 19th, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    #6 and #9 were written especially for me!

  • Bess

    December 20th, 2013 at 3:39 AM

    These are all truly wonderful.
    There is not one of them that doesn’t have some special messgae in it for me and ways that I can incorporate that into my own life.
    I think that anyone who takes the time to sit down and really read them and focus on the message behind the words will find the same.

  • zazzy

    December 20th, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    I’m not so sure about #10. That has def not been my experience

  • Ker Cleary

    Ker Cleary

    December 20th, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    riley – many people find that #6 and #9 go together, and that relaxing more helps us not be so perfectionistic!

    Bess – I am glad you found this post so resonant! Thanks for the feedback.

    zazzy – I am sorry to hear that you haven’t found help when you asked for it. It is not always the case, of course, that we always get help from the person we ask. It does seem that for many people, when they start to open up to allowing help, they start to find more people who can truly be there for them when they need it. I hope this becomes true for you as well. We all need support sometimes, and we all deserve it.

  • Frieda L. Ferrick, MFT

    December 20th, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    like this blog alot, it is concise, sharp, smart and helpful

  • Nan

    December 20th, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    Really helpful to me, Ker. I especially like the part about art being part of every day. Thank you.

  • avery

    December 23rd, 2013 at 3:48 AM

    Crying is a huge cleansing tool for me.
    I can cry on command, and there have been may times that I have let this wash away all of the crap from the day and feel renewed just via the act of letting it all go thru the tears.

  • Ker Cleary

    Ker Cleary

    December 23rd, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Thanks, Frieda and Nan, I am glad you find it helpful! Avery, that sounds like a useful and refreshing tool. Thanks for commenting.

  • Jas

    December 24th, 2013 at 3:19 AM

    I know that there is nothing wrong with me but there are times when I get sucked back into thinking that there is especially when I am around those same people for a long period of time who have always made me feel that way.
    Sometimes feeling better about you has a lot to do with the people you (and I) continue to allow to be a part of our lives.

  • Ker

    Ker

    December 24th, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    I agree, Jas, the environments we inhabit, including the people there, have a huge impact on our well being. It’s never too late to seek out more supportive surroundings. Good luck!

  • Townes

    December 26th, 2013 at 5:53 AM

    What has helped me through some incredibly dark times in the past is coming to the realization that I am so much stronger than I ever thought that I was. I used to feel weak and inadequate until one certain experience showed me just how strong and able to cope I really am. Once I went through that I was determined to never feel weak again, and I haven’t. I know that when I conquered that, I could do anything and that is the light that I have let lead the way in my life since then. We are stronger and have more within that most of us care to either realize r utilize and it is never a bad thing to use that to the fullest.

  • Ker Cleary

    Ker Cleary

    December 26th, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Townes, you make a very good point. We never know what we are made of until we are tested, and then we might find hidden strengths we didn’t know we had. Then we might have to change our view of ourselves! And yes, it is useful to know our own strength. Thanks for sharing.

  • Nancy Andres

    December 31st, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Excellent points and ones I need to practice every day, especially being kind to myself.
    I’m sure the world would be a sunnier place if more people would reach within to feel the love.
    Nancy Andres, Health & Lifestyle Writer

  • Ker C

    Ker C

    January 3rd, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    I agree, Nancy, it makes a profound difference, with a huge ripple effect, if we are kind to ourselves.

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