Resolve to Recover in 2017
by Ashley Cooper, MHC-LP
With 2017 just getting under way, many of you may be gearing up to identify and execute your “New Year’s Resolutions”. New Year’s Resolutions seem like a good idea at first but they are actually not the most effective way to go about implementing change and promoting long lasting recovery.
Future Tripping: Instead of being here NOW, the idea of a new year’s resolution leads your mind down a future trip. It keeps us from being present to our current experience and perpetuates anxiety about what our future selves may want or need.
Black and White Thinking: New Year’s Resolutions easily activate the parts of our minds that want to use all or nothing thinking. “2016 was completely awful and 2017 will be the best year ever!”.
Negative Thinking: New Year’s Resolutions also activate the parts of our minds that want to only focus on the negative, it primes us to reflect on the year passed and only see what didn’t work or what was lacking.
Guilt and Shame: Feelings of guilt and shame about “what went wrong” or “what we didn’t do” are easily elicited when we are engaging in negative and black and white thinking.
Instead of setting New Year’s Resolutions, Resolve to Recover. Here are some tips about how to get in touch with the parts of you that want long lasting change and recovery.
Mindfulness: In small ways, begin to practice mindfulness. Whether it be noticing that your hands are under a running faucet of water, or taking a few deep focused breaths on your way to work, start to be the observer of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
Grey Area: Try to notice when you are using all or nothing thinking, and ask yourself if there is a grey area that you are overlooking or rejecting.
Gratitude Practice: Allow yourself time and space to notice what IS working for you. Daily gratitude lists can help you to begin to notice and take in the parts of your life that feel grounded, connected, and pleasurable.
Self Care: With intention and attention, practice self care activities that feel nourishing to your mind, body and spirit. Whether it be enjoying a walk in the park on a beautiful day, signing up for a pottery class, or calling a friend, notice and label the times you are engaging with self care.
Checking In: Ask yourself how you are feeling and begin to notice and label emotions. This will help you begin to tolerate your feelings in a new way.