There is a popular expression, “hindsight is 2020.” As I move into 2021 and reflect back on the year 2020, I still have a hard time analyzing and making sense of all that transpired. We as a community and society experienced a global pandemic, economic crisis, racial justice movement, contentious political environment and election, and a dramatic impact on our education system. This has led to chronic uncertainty and with that, increased feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression. We finally come into 2021 after a long 2020 and then the event that happened at the US Capital occurred that was another unprecedented event and shook so many of us. And, all the stressors we experienced in 2020 are still felt and possibly even exacerbated moving into this new year.
As a therapist, and my own experience as a human being, I know that one of the most significant protective factors to help us through challenging times in life is a strong support system; support of family, friends, co-workers, organization we are members of, such as churches, even gym buddies. Much of this divisiveness is affecting these relationships, and therefore our much-needed support system. Whew – as I am thinking about all of this I feel heavy…. though I am an eternal optimist so the heaviness is not where I stay. My mind quickly goes to how I choose to live my life, what I choose to do with my body, my emotions and thoughts.
What do I mean by this? I invite you to reflect on what you have learned about yourself, what you have gained from last year. Did you learn to slow down? Did you cook more or reach out to people you have not connected with in years? Maybe learn a new skill or hobby? Enjoy not sitting in traffic and maybe more time with loved ones? What comes to mind for you? I invite you to consider where you want your focus on each of these as we reflect on 2020 and move into 2021:
Peace versus conflict
There is no one way for peace; it is finding what works for you and this may even change over time. One way to choose peace over conflict is to possibly not engage, such as on social media. Maybe come from a place of curiosity and compassion. Maybe seek other ways for connection, such as connect over talking about other topics than politics. We do not need to agree. We cannot control others and make them see our reasoning (even though we may think our “side” is much intelligent or reasonable than “the other”). What if we work off the knowledge that we are actually not all working off the same knowledge? Read or listen to other news outlets than your go-to and you will quickly see that our society is not working off the same information. This is a hard pill to swallow, I know! The peace comes in having this fact as part of the conversation to help decrease judgment and increase understanding on the differing views.
Stability versus chaos
Meditation, prayer, connecting to your higher power, breath, being intentional with your thoughts, move your body and connect to your body daily, drink water, get adequate sleep. The point here is to continually assess your personal needs and be intentional with yourself. Choose to give yourself at least one gift a day
Resilience versus rigidity
We do not like to accept it, but suffering is part of the human experience. Resilience is our ability to cope with life challenges. This happens through self-care, self-awareness, mindfulness, positive relationships and finding purpose. This is seeking and being open. We stunt and hurt ourselves and our relationships with ridged thinking that there is only one way, our way is the right way and all else are wrong.
Faith versus fear
Whatever your belief system, knowing you are not alone can bring peace in times of uncertainty.
Hope versus despair
What we are going through now is not forever my friends. Having a sense of hope can get us through very challenging times, such as our current state. 2021 is a New Year. I, for one, am hopeful and optimistic!
Grace to self and others
Give space for having challenges, especially when we have all this going on in our world, society and relationships. Give yourself time to feel, and continue to breath. Others are going through the same things and having their own challenges. Giving grace to yourself and then extending this grace to others helps with peace. None of us have been through anything like 2020.
We are a strong and resilient nation, society, community and people. We are also a diverse nation, society, community and people. Can we give space to one another for individual beliefs? We all have different life experiences and value systems. Above all, can we operate with mutual respect, kindness, compassion, grace, and love towards our neighbor? The Golden Rule is powerful, though what about the Platinum Rule of treat others how THEY want to be treated? I invite us to go into 2021 together with a sense of peace, stability, unity, resiliency, faith, hope and grace.