What else can help to get the New Year off to a good start, creating and sustaining the sort of life you want?
- Expect change. Strive to live life on life’s terms, not your own. That means not throwing an emotional tantrum when you’re thrown a curve ball. Nothing lasts forever; when we expect it to, we greatly increase our opportunities for suffering. Don’t’ make disappointments a bigger deal than they actually are. (Therapists sometimes call this “catastrophizing.”) Take a deep breath. Relax. Follow travel guru Rick Steves’ advice: “If you’re traveling and you don’t get what you want, then change what you want.” Good counsel, even if you’re at home.
- Lovingkindness begins at home. Watch your stress level and take healthy action if you find yourself spinning out of control. If you’re facing a difficult situation ask yourself how you would talk to your best friend if he or she was in this situation. Can you be patient with yourself? Can you talk supportively to yourself, acknowledging progress even when efforts fail, or encouraging yourself rather than engaging in self-criticism?
- How do you make a difference in the world? Life isn’t all about us. When you engage your friends, support colleagues and coworkers, join advocacy or volunteer groups, you break down patterns of isolation and helplessness. You help make things better.
- Don’t wait too long to get help. Many people spend months or longer contemplating help for emotional or relational problems before reaching out to talk to a therapist or counselor. Sometimes that allows problems to fester and worsen; almost always it means unnecessary suffering instead of working to make things better. If I can be of help, please contact me.