New Year, New You???

This phrase is ubiquitous with the month of January. And like many colloquialisms, it seems harmless, it’s just part of the vernacular right?  I’m not going to get all sensationalist here.  This blog isn’t titled “The seemingly harmless phrase that could kill you!”.  I just want to take a closer look at it, maybe challenge it a little bit.

So many things we see in the media focus on changing us; making us skinnier, our hair thicker, our face prettier, etc… If that isn’t enough, every January we get smacked in the face with ads about resolutions, mostly about working out and eating better.  None of these things are terrible, in moderation.  It’s great to be in shape, some folks love the art of makeup, who doesn’t want picture perfect hair?

But what if we are good enough, just the way we are?  Seriously.

Somehow in our culture, we have developed the idea that shaming ourselves pushes us to be better. Turns out it doesn’t.  Brene Brown has done some amazing research on this. In a shocking turn of events, shaming ourselves is actually quite discouraging.  I know, shut the front door, right!?!

So back to the phrase, “New Year, New You”.  Please listen to me when I say this

YOU DON’T NEED A NEW YOU.  YOU ARE AWESOME.  YOU ARE ENOUGH.

I hear the “buts” coming already… “but, I need to lose a few pounds”, “but, I lose my temper sometimes”, “but, I need to kick my sweet tooth”.

Those things may be true, but those things aren’t you.  They are pounds of weight, they are feelings, they are habits.  They aren’t you.  YOU ARE ENOUGH.  So pick one thing to work on at a time.  Set some realistic goals.  Start small so you experience success, success is reinforcing.  For goodness sakes, when you reach your goals GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT!  If I even sense you discrediting yourself, if I hear something like “well, normal people don’t eat a pint of ice cream a night so I don’t deserve credit for not eating a pint of ice cream tonight” I will come to your house, grab you by your shoulders, and tell you that you did a good job until you can no longer stand the site of my face.  Too aggressive?  Sorry.  I’m passionate about this one.  Your struggles are your own, so when you make progress don’t compare, own it, give yourself credit, and keep moving forward.

So this new year please note: you don’t need a new you.  Please continue to be you, and continue to grow, improve, heal, learn, and challenge yourself.  But stay who you are, you are awesome.

.

.

.

If you’d like to read some of Brene Brown’s work on coping with shame and challenging your imperfections check out these two amazing books


I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”


The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Be Present for the Holidays

See what I did there?  No? Ok that wasn’t the best pun. Moving on!

Do you ever feel like the holidays are over before you know it? Or you are so stressed you don’t get to enjoy the holiday season because you’re so busy? Or you dread the holidays because of family drama, loneliness, chaos?  You get the picture.  The holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year”, but it doesn’t always feel that way.  I can’t guarantee your mother in law won’t say something snarky, or your significant other will actually get to what you want this year, but I can help you stay more present and enjoy the special moments that make this season so “wonderful”!

Find Mindful Moments

Take time throughout the day, every day, to be present and mindful.  It doesn’t have to be much, but it can make a huge impact.  When I talk to my clients about this I nearly always hear a response akin to “I don’t have the time”.  The thing is, you do. Think about your day and notice when you can fit in a few seconds of mindful breath.

  • If you have a commute, at each red light, take a mindful breath and do a quick body scan, see if there I any tension you can breathe into or any stress you can let go of. The light turns green, move on.
  • Take a mindful shower. Focus on the feeling of the water on your head, face, hands, etc…  Feel the difference between the warm water and cooler air.  Notice the tingling of the shampoo in your hair, or the way the cool tile slowly warms under your feet or water.
  • Tune into 5 senses of the holidays. Smell the tree, feel the smoothness of the wrapping paper, taste the cinnamon, ginger, and peppermint, look at the beautiful lights, hear the bells ringing.  Those holiday signatures can be your meditation bell, your cue to tune into the present.

Make Mindful Moments

It’s so easy to miss the holiday magic.  It’s also easy to be overwhelmed by it.  If you’re a parent, you feel the pressure to make it big and special and memorable.  I get it.  Here’s what I’m saying, it can’t always be all of that. That is ok.  But you can be intentional about making certain moments special.  This year several factors made it difficult for us to get a tree, we usually like to get one the day after Thanksgiving, but that just wasn’t in the cards.  And when we finally got to it, it was squeezed in between work and a birthday party.  I could have been sad and regretful about this, believe me, I can really go there.  But, I chose to make the moment that we did have special.  I chose to be present, to tune in, to take time to smell the trees, to carry my daughter who is almost too big, to let her touch everything she wanted to, to let my son run between all the trees and yell in delight and excitement.

As we decorated the tree (several days later) I chose to not worry about the breakable ornaments and just be present with my children’s joy as they found the perfect spot for the perfect ornament.  I told them stories of some of the decorations and sang (poorly) along with the songs playing in the background.  It wasn’t perfect, the kids fought, ornaments broke, the tree is a little wonky, but it felt great. So, tune in when you can.  There is no way to make the whole season magical, but you have the power to choose some magical moments and be present for them.

Let Go

Lastly, let go of perfection.  There is such freedom in not holding yourself and the season to unattainable ideals. Do what you can and let go of the rest, this season and always.

 

Peace to you this holiday season and all the best in the new year!

~Abby