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  • Jonathan Todd, M.A., LPC-Intern

New Year, Content You

During the new year I usually become overwhelmed with the expectations I set for myself. I make goals to better my physical, social, and emotional health, while implementing the discipline of meal prepping every week, while also maintaining a financial budget that’ll help get me out of debt, and while simultaneously keeping a smile on my face. I see a lot of people in the month of January frantically running around trying to accomplish everything they “should” accomplish. There is an intense pressure looming over us every new year to maintain resolutions, and sometimes it feels like we are just setting ourselves up to crack underneath this immense weight. Here’s a message I think we can all benefit from - Be Kind To Yourself.

In the face of a seemingly insurmountable year, I become hyper aware of everything I want to accomplish while also feeling completely frozen. When I hold onto unrealistic standards I become anxious and depressed. Anxious because I’m constantly aware of everything that needs to get done, and depressed because I don’t feel like I can measure up to the task.

If you can relate to my experience, here’s a challenging question for us to consider - How can we be open-handed with our expectations and accepting of ourselves when we fall short?

Open-handedness is the practice of letting go of control. There are so many things outside of our scope that usually weigh us down with anxiety. For example, maybe you have a goal of walking or jogging more this year. With the weather in Dallas, it is almost impossible to predict when the climate will cooperate with our goals. One day things are frozen, and the next it’s miserably hot. Maybe, because of the weather, you choose to stay inside most days. Maybe you don’t “hit the mark” one week. Open-handedness is the recognition that things are sometimes out of your control and that’s okay! Open-handedness is the recognition that your value is not tied to your achievements. Maybe the weather is cooperating, but you just feel so tired from the day. If you need rest, that is okay too! My point is, that we are usually so quick to beat ourselves up for our perceived shortcomings, but hardly practice showing ourselves love and acceptance. How often do we meditate on feelings of gratitude and self-acceptance? Probably seldomly, especially when we compare it to the ruminating thoughts of our anxieties and shortcomings.

Here is a practice that has benefited me a lot, and that I want to encourage you readers with. When I start to feel down on myself, I practice self-acceptance. This week I didn’t exercise, but I’m also extremely thankful that I’m being more mindful of my physical health. This week I went over my budget, but I’m also thankful that I can provide for myself. I isolated from people this week, but am very grateful that I was able to rest in my home. Maybe I didn’t hit my goals for the week, but that doesn’t mean that all is lost. Some days I’m just doing the best I can, and that’s a beautiful thing. When you miss the mark and start to recognize your frailty as a human, show yourself kindness and gentleness. When you feel yourself cracking under the pressure of unrealistic expectations, be mindful of how you can care for yourself. When you start shutting down, instead of calling yourself “lazy,” tell yourself “I can’t carry the world of my shoulders, and my body needs some much needed rest.”

If you find yourself in a seemingly inescapable pattern of anxiety and misery, call Mighty Oaks Counseling. We understand where you are, and are here to walk alongside you. Maybe it’s difficult to show yourself acceptance. We promise, without judgment, to demonstrate acceptance. Maybe you need some help implementing self-acceptance - give us a call. We’d be honored to walk alongside you as you tip the scales in your favor.

And, stay-tuned for more information on mindfulness, meditation, and the practice of letting-go, as we work to provide more blog entries in 2018.

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