It’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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- It’s OK to cry. In fact, it helps. Who knew?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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
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