New Year, New You?

New Year, New You?

December, the last month of the calendar year, is often a month of reflection—a time when we think back on the past 11 months. Sometimes our thoughts become flooded with joyful and happy memories, while other times our hearts are filled with pain and sorrow.

And then, there is that critical lens through which we assess what we can improve about ourselves or how we can do better next year. It is this reflection that precedes the development of those January New Year’s Resolutions.

It is no question that 2020 has been unanimously a difficult year. The pandemic has created challenges and stressors that most of us could never have imagined we’d face in a lifetime. To list just a few and try to generalize the experience would be inadequate.

However, what I believe I can appropriately generalize is that we all deserve some extra compassion in this new year—increased compassion for self and increased compassion from and for others. And, what better place to start than with coming up with your new year resolutions?

Far too often, new year resolutions just result in a whole lot of self-invalidation. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard resolutions about dieting or exercising more. I am guilty of it myself. When those are our resolutions, what we are telling ourselves is that we are not healthy or fit or skinny enough; or, that we’re not meeting some standard or expectation.

Another common way we can self-invalidate with resolutions is by creating ones that are unattainable or unrealistic. We set ourselves up for failure. For example, land that perfect job, travel more, or find love. While there may be ways in which one can work towards those goals, they may not always be fully achievable or within our control.

So, I am going to challenge you to try and approach your new year’s resolutions differently this year. Think about that much deserved compassion for self and others. Think about how your resolutions or goals for 2021 can validate as opposed to invalidate. How can you set goals or resolutions that allow you to feel successful and accomplished?

I would not be a DBT therapist if I didn’t include some DBT skills that can support the task at hand!

  1. First and foremost is Mindfulness. Develop and engage in your resolutions mindfully. More specifically, consider the “HOW” skills of mindfulness to guide your approach. Don’t judge, stay focused, and do what works.
  2. Radical Acceptance, the skill of accepting the things you cannot change, is important to consider when developing your resolutions. This can be supported with identifying realistic and attainable goals.
  3. The PLEASE skills are a helpful reminder of important self-care practices.
  4. Build Mastery skill is a useful approach to developing goals and feeling competent. Do one thing each day, start small and gradually increase over time, do something difficult but not impossible.

Wishing a happy and a very HEALTHY New Year to all!

Authored by: Jessica Oppenheimer, LCSW