It is interesting how quickly time flies. We are already into the second month of 2021. I would imagine many of us are happy to leave 2020 behind. What has the end of 2020 been like for you? With all the challenges of 2020, the last few weeks of 2020 were the most difficult for me. It started with being sick for a few weeks in November, followed by an emergency appendectomy, and then complications about a week later required me to be readmitted to the hospital. I am glad to report I am doing much better now. To say the least, December 2020 stunk for me. What was 2020 like for you? In the fast-paced world we live in, I wonder how often we stop to reflect on where we have been. As we go into 2021, I have two challenges for you.
Challenge #1: Reflect on 2020
Did you know that reflection is one of the most basic, yet vital therapeutic interventions used in counseling? I use reflection all the time with my clients. Reflection communicates and affirms to my clients that I heard and understood what they have just said. Here is an example from a recent session I had with a young professional adult.
“This last week has really sucked. My work was stressful and I think my boss is out to get me or something. I don’t understand what I did to deserve this.”
“I would say, it sounds like your week was really tough. It seems like your boss’ actions are making work way more stressful and on top of that, not understanding why he is doing all of that is increasing your stress level.”
Not only do I use reflection in my professional career with my clients, but I also use reflection in my personal life. At its core, the concept of reflection is simple, however, implementing it can often be much more challenging. Simply put, reflection, is a conscious choice to stop and think about what happened in the past with the goal of gaining greater understanding and learning more about oneself. A full reflection on the past includes both a cognitive aspect and an emotional aspect. The cognitive aspect involves the use of our prefrontal cortex, the logic center of our brain. Reflection should also include an emotional perspective, which incorporates the Limbic System of the brain, the emotional center of our brain.
Reflection is all about gaining insight to where you have been and who you have become. When I reflect on my life, I will often journal. For me this is an easy and practical way of writing down my thoughts and emotions in a clear and concise way. What about you? Have you ever engaged in a deliberate reflection of your life? I want to challenge you to spend some time in the next 1-2 weeks to reflect on 2020. My hope is for you to learn something new about yourself that you did not know before. If reflecting is a new concept for you, here are some questions that you can use as a guide in your reflection of 2020.
- What was the most enjoyable moment of 2020?
- What was the most challenging moment of 2020?
- What motivated me during 2020 to achieve new things?
- My most important relationship in 2020 was: [Explain]
- Is there anything I want to change about myself in 2021?
- What are the 5 words I would use to describe myself?
- My goal for 2021 is _____________________.
Challenge #2: Create a 2021 Motto
For the past 5-6 years, at the end of each year, I create a motto to live by for the upcoming year. My mottos are short phrases that are often inspired by verses from the Bible. These short phrases often focus on an area of personal growth that I want to achieve or improve on in the upcoming year. Here are just a few of them from the past few years and my 2021 motto.
2015: “Am I living to Win?”
Inspiration: Hebrews 12:1-2 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
2016: “Seeking to Rediscover God”
Inspiration: Matthew 7:7-8 – Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
2020: “Dare to be Unafraid”
Inspiration: Isaiah 41:13 – “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
For the last two years, I have started with a word and made it into a phrase. Perhaps this might make it easier for you as well. In 2020 the word was “unafraid” and I made it into a motto. For 2021 my word is “listen” and my motto is “Listen to Me.” The inspiration comes from a verse in the old testament of the Bible. Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great unsearchable things you do not know.” After a particularly long day, I was driving home, and I realized I was feeling frustrated and irritable. As I drove home, I reflected my feelings and realized that there are many messages that I am bombarded with from different news outlets, social media platforms, friends, and family members, etc. I realized that when I stop listening to God and the truth and the reassurance that can be found in Him, I feel lost and disconnected. So, my goal for 2021 is to be intentional about listening to God amidst a broken and hurting world.
Now it is your turn. I challenge you to create a motto to live by for 2021. As you reflect on 2020, use your insights and understanding to create a phrase to help guide you in 2021. Your motto does not have to be inspired by verses from the Bible. They don’t have to be spiritual at all if you don’t want. The goal is to come up with a phrase that will be easy to remember and focuses on helping you strive towards a heathier you in 2021.
As you take on these two challenges, you might notice that 2020 left a bigger emotional impact on you then you realized. Sometimes processing the past with a therapist is the next best step. Please remember, there is never any shame in striving for improving your emotional wellbeing. We have a team of over 45 therapists to pick from and our job is to walk along side you as you begin the journey to a happier and healthier 2021.