With the new year, I am hoping your resolve to work on having a fulfilling life has only been strengthened. If not, you are not alone. Sometimes the new year can be challenging. When one is struggling with symptoms of anxiety and depression viewing the coming year can be overwhelming. You may struggle to take appropriate stock of what you have accomplished in the past year, and it may be difficult to motivate yourself to make changes so that you are living the life you want. However, avoidance makes it worse! Avoidance can take many shapes. It can be conscious awareness that you don’t want to do it, or it can be more unconscious processes like forgetting.
AVOIDANCE IS OFTEN DONE BECAUSE YOU DO NOT WANT TO FEEL ANTICIPATED UNCOMFORTABLE FEELINGS.
Avoidance is often done because you do not want to feel the feelings you anticipate will be uncomfortable. You do not want to examine your finances because you fear you have not given it the necessary attention and don’t want to face your decisions. You do not want to assess relationships because you fear uncomfortable discussions if you decide to assert yourself and/or invest less energy into those relationships that don’t contribute to a more positive or relaxed mood. You may not take stock of your past year accomplishments because you were stagnant. You may not want to self-evaluate because you have such a difficult time giving yourself praise for anything.
These things are difficult to face. However, is the complacency of your sadness and worry more comfortable than the potential of having a life in which you are your most genuine self? If you choose to takes steps toward taking stock of your year and you find yourself overwhelmed and struggling with avoidance, keep in mind the following:
- Feelings are temporary
- Emotions can be overwhelming for a few moments but they pass
- Feelings move like a waves- slowly increasing, until they peak, and then they begin to dissipate. When you are at the peak of discomfort, remind yourself it will soon feel better.
- When you are doing something that is emotionally challenging validate yourself! “This is hard” “I am proud of myself for doing something difficult”
- Treat yourself to something nice afterward- a movie, a small treat, a self hug
- Practice and Repeat- it becomes less anxiety provoking the more you do it
- You feel more accomplished the more you tackle these things- so anticipate this feeling of relief
When attempting to take stock of your year. I suggest journaling. Make a list of the major categories of your life that are important and assess their state. This can include categories such as: health (physical and emotional), friendships, intimate relationships, family, children, work, finances. Think about each category and jot down a few things you have accomplished in the past year and things you would like to work on for the year to come. This is the work of accountability that gets you closer to a life that is fulfilling.
Adaobi Anyeji, Phd
The Blue Clinic
Specializing in the treatment of sadness, depression, worrying, anxiety
Los Angeles based Private Psychology Practice
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