Many of us make New Year’s resolutions, promising to change our behavior, but before January is done we have forgotten or given up on our pledge. In fact, research suggests that less than 10% of us will actually follow through on our resolutions.
Resolutions are about making choices. They offer us an opportunity to change our habits, and an attempt to master our behavior and beliefs. As a therapist I have seen countless people create positive change in counselling, certainly many more than 10% of my clients achieve their desired outcome, so I know it is possible for people to make choices and changes that stand the test of time.
Clients in therapy generally spend some time figuring out what their goal is, such as moving on from an unhealthy relationship or overcoming anxiety. Working together over a number of sessions, we break that goal down into small steps, and over time the client gains new insight and learns skills that enable him or her to move forward. And of course, they are working with a supportive therapist who keeps them to task.
So how can we relate this to making New Year’s resolutions?
If you want to change something in your life, New Year can be a great time to take that positive step, but you don’t need to wait to fix something in your life that isn’t working. If you know you need to take action, then start developing the habits of a proactive person today! If you think you will need support to make life changes, then you might also want to make this the year that you seek counselling. I offer a free 20 minute consultation so we can discuss whether I might be able to help you.
As we move into a new year, I wanted to talk about HOPE. Some people say that having a blind faith or hoping for things that are not realistic is just tormenting ourselves. When we lose someone precious to us, when we fail continually at something we strive towards, when we hear about world atrocities, when we are struggling with a threatening or debilitating illness, when we lose our faith, these are times when we question the value of hope, when we feel like we are going through the motions and sometimes turning to anything that blunts the pain.
What is there to hope for after all?
What I want to impress upon you today is that hope is vital, and that we should never stop being hopeful.
Research suggests that people who maintain a hopeful outlook tend to be healthier and feel happier in general. Interestingly, hopeful people attain better grades in school, and being hopeful increases our ability to endure pain and difficulty. In short, hope is a key component for good mental health.
Hope is also a much easier emotion to sustain and reach for than happiness, but the two do go hand in hand. So what can you be hopeful for as you look ahead to the coming year?
Think about and complete one or both sentences:
Take a moment to consider how it feels when you have completed your sentences.
Then start setting realistic goals. This is different from resolutions or aiming for something that might well be unattainable, such as winning an Oscar or having a best-selling album. Think about things you know you can hope for that have a good chance of happening, and start there.
The boost to your mental health can also come from giving hope to others, in fact we find hope when we give hope, so think about what you can do for those around you to help them feel more hopeful. Hope becomes more powerful when it is collaborative.
And finally, learn to savor the anticipation of hopes coming true rather than dread losing hope. The fact that you had hope does not mean you are more disappointed when things don’t work out as you wanted them to, it means you allowed yourself to experience something that felt great and you can do that again as you keep going.
Hope can move mountains, so never stop reaching for it.
If you find yourself facing the coming year with concerns or anxiety, counselling can help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you.