It seems to be the norm that bloggers, therapists and anyone who puts pen to paper is writing about the last year and what is to come in the following year. It is that time of year. A hard year is coming to an end and a new one is around the corner. We will all be a year older by the time we get to this time next year. It is something about the human spirit that likes to put things in perspective at this time of year.
However, it is very important that if we want this to be a fruitful process that we reflect and not ruminate ( a process of letting our mind wander aimlessly and hence leaving open a danger of negative thinking). To highlight this, the following quote is one that I have always found useful :
We do not learn from experiences, we learn from reflecting on those experiences…. John Dewey
We can only truly reflect if we focus on experiences and the learning that can be gained from them. That means taking responsibility for our part in this. This is the identifiable difference between rumination and reflection. We deal with specific events and what we can gain in terms of learning to enrich or improve the next experience. Did we do all we could to make that experience good? Would we have done anything differently? What would we do next time? What made it a good or bad experience? All of these questions are focussed on a specific event and avoid using “What if?” questions, the basis of rumination.
So to put words into action, I have gone through this exercise myself using a proven model, Hudson’s core values, which explores 6 values. Hudson describes that by identifying and managing commitment to these values, it can guide individuals to a more fulfilling life. Hudson, F.M. (1999). Jossey- Bass: San Francisco
- Personal Identity : I have never made any secret of the fact that I was a codependent and struggle to keep those thoughts at bay. This has been the case this year. It is constant but valuable work to try to stop enmeshing myself in others. My commitment is to continue to try to set boundaries around myself and others, allow myself to receive and have the discipline to make sure I have my “own place”.
- Achievement: One thing I have learnt from this last few years is that we have more choice than we sometimes believe or want to believe. Life is essentially setting goals to overcome problems in all areas of our lives and having the discipline to face up to them. I have also learnt that not much can stop us when we employ a solution focussed attitude. I am at a point where I can celebrate success in my personal and work life after years of trying to find my place in the world.
- Attachment and Intimacy : Point 1 not withstanding, I have learnt that there are people (or in my case one person) that it is just fine to be vulnerable around and open up to. I often blamed myself for not doing this but it helps a lot when you find someone who makes it safe to do so. I strive to be emotionally honest, show true feelings and develop intimacy.
- Play and Creativity : This is an extremely important aspect that I often neglect. I work a lot and find creativity in my work and writing. However, I would like to improve my work/life balance after three very stressful years where my life was turned upside down a number of times. Relaxation and “fun” are vital. I am at a point at this time of year where I am very tired and would like to think that by this time next year, I can look back and say that I have improved things.
- Search for Meaning : I try not to dwell on this too much. This can lead to rumination and “what if?. I am a firm believer that if we stay in the present moment, influence the things we can and take responsibility for them, this will take care of itself. Just my opinion.
- Giving Back and Serving : Here, I have learnt I have to be careful. I tend towards sacrificial behavior. My work allows me the leeway to help others and I am proud of that. In my personal life, I am fully committed to the wonderful lady in my life and I would like to think that she feels I am.
Well, that is my reflection for 2019. No resolutions but learning experiences and a constant commitment to learn and improve where I can. As someone once said “there are no mistakes, just success and learning experiences!”
Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychotherapist in online private practice working with individuals, couples and groups, dealing with codependency issues, severe depression, bipolar, personality disorders, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders and other mental health issues. He has been practicing online for many years and recognized early that online therapy was a convenient method for people to meet their therapist. Working outside the box, he goes that extra mile to make sure clients have access to help between sessions, something that is greatly appreciated. He also gives part of his spare time up to mentor psychology students in a university setting.
For more information, please visit: www.drnjenner.com