Well, we’ve made it! It’s the start of a brand. New. YEAR. Welcome 2019.
I still remember Y2K (which feels like eons ago), where my whole Midwestern town went out and bought 1-3 generators per household and filled our bathtubs with canned goods in preparation for the end of the modern world. Well, I can safely say we’ve made it, nineteen years later and still kicking.
All walks down memory lane aside, however you're feeling about starting 2019, my hope is that these words will help inspire you to traverse this year with intentionality.
There is something inherently powerful and magical about the changing of a year. It’s a reset, a time to check in and reflect on what the past year has held, what themes and messages have been sent your way, and what truths you've gleaned in the midst of both trial and triumph. It's a time to think ahead to the upcoming twelve months and set intentions for health and wellness.
Let’s be honest: our societal relationship with New Year’s resolutions often includes setting goals that actually hurt us more than help us, causing self-judgment and producing shame. Don’t get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of setting goals and working on self-improvement, but we must make a habit of evaluating whether our intentions promote healing in both our relationships with ourselves and with others.
Throughout my years of supporting clients in therapy, I’ve had the privilege of bearing witness to the things that humanity truly longs for, that we desire at a soul level, beyond what we see on social media, beyond what society perpetuates as “arrival” and happiness. It’s not just about focusing on eating clean, weight loss, or making more money.
This year, let's say goodbye to perpetuating toxic diet culture and weight loss, to burning ourselves out from over-commitment, and to continuing disconnection about the realities of being a human. Let’s be honest, real, and push further into greater authenticity.
As we head into 2019, I encourage you to focus on these intentions throughout the year to support your healthiest self:
#1 – Commit to Real Connection
With the continued advancement of technology, we also see the impact and stunting of relational connection. Direct, in-person conversations are continuing to be replaced by communication through text and social media. The results are increased depression, anxiety, inauthenticity, isolation, and loneliness. We are a socially starved society.
There’s no denying we live more fast-paced lives than our parents did when raising us, but that doesn’t have to mean relational starvation. I'm not only referring to the impact on the time spent with those we hold dear, but also the quality of the time connecting. So, let’s talk about two key ways to counteract this reality and promote connection in 2019.
First, commit to keeping your plans. Seriously, stop cancelling if you don’t really need to. Of course, if you're heaved over the toilet spewing last night's take-out meal, then of course, cancel. Not even your mother wants to be around that. But in all seriousness, stop cancelling when it’s not absolutely necessary. We’ve created this awful reality that it’s a common occurrence to cancel on friends and family. The truth is that this not only communicates a lack of priority in relationships and those specific connections, but it also keeps us from one of our core needs: connection. These face-to-face moments with others are food for our hearts and souls.
Second, be honest about how you are doing. Forget the Minnesota nice crap, and let’s get to the juicy truth of how we're feeling, thinking, and doing in day-to-day life! By now we’ve all heard about the falsities of social media presentation, but when we carry this persona into our real-life, in-person interactions with others, the sense of isolation only grows larger. Vow to be honest about your emotional and relational well-being with those who are safe to hold that vulnerability.
#2 – Fight for Self-Compassion
All too often, our greatest battles are held within the confines of our minds. We struggle to create narratives that are neutral towards ourselves, let alone positive and compassionate. The human brain is an incredibly powerful tool and it has the ability to impact our view of self, others, and the world. What kind of messages get perpetuated in yours? Is it strewn with negativity and doubt? Is it often coming from a place of scarcity or defeat?
Make 2019 the year that you fight for a compassionate, kind, and gentle internal voice. Push to create a self-dialogue that honestly looks at yourself from a place of value, worth, and belonging. Practice noticing the ways you are brave and courageous each day (getting out of bed is one of them!). Make a habit of finding gratitude in the most mundane nuances of daily life. Create an internal culture of kind understanding toward yourself, because being a human is hard. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is to create a compassionate, loving, and accepting voice that we hear when life gets tough.
#3 – Engage in Self-Discovery
Make 2019 dedicated to deepening your understanding of your heart, mind, and soul. Within each of us is a wealth of information and knowledge, unique to our own personhood. The journey of understanding ourselves must come through various levels of knowledge: intellect and cognitive understanding, emotional, and spiritual. We are encouraged to engage with ourselves and the world primarily through our source of intellectual knowledge, but understanding who we are emotionally and spiritually is just as important.
Spend time this year exploring who you are holistically. Explore your uniqueness, what your emotional internal world looks like, and discover how you connect to your core self. Whether that's through reconnecting to an old hobby that once gave you passion and energy, incorporating daily mindfulness to slow yourself down and increase your awareness, or finally allowing yourself the space to process your story, I urge you to say yes.
In the words of the wise Brene Brown, “Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable, it means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need, to talk about how you’re feeling, to have the hard conversations.” So make 2019 the year you commit to true connection, increase self-love, and vow to understand yourself more fully. It’s the toughest work, but it's worth every effort.
Cheers to this new year, my friends.