Our mind-health Q&A columnist Athena Lazarides is a qualified psychologist and the author of ‘You’ve Got This’. She’s on a mission to help you clarify your purpose so you can move onwards and upwards in life. You can see her work here.
I find your column super empowering so I thought I would write in. This year was a colossal disaster for me. It felt like I went from one shit storm to another. Work was bad. My relationship was rocky. My social life felt boring. Politics worldwide seemed to get to everybody. I’ve just had enough and do not want to lose myself, next year, the way I did this year. I’m generally a very grounded person and feel like my energy can and does make a difference in my life but this year had left me feeling victimised, which I can’t stand. I want to make 2017 a phenomenal year for me. What recommendations do you have? Should I try out affirmations, practice gratitude etc.?
With only a fews days of 2016, your question is both timely and relevant! I know that a lot of people out there will tell you to write out or say affirmations to get you out of victim mode but I’m not going to do that. When something has been hard the most helpful place to start is with rigorous honesty and acknowledgement. It is also not helpful to pretend to be grateful for things that you are not really thankful for. It ends up being an exercise in futility (more on that later). So first and foremost, declare what has not worked for you. Rip out any form of denial and look back at your year with honesty. Write it out or talk it out, it doesn’t matter. What were you unhappy about? What could you have done better with? What are you responsible for? Did you take an active part in your social life, relationship and work life? How did you fall into victim mode? Why did you fall into victim mode? What felt good? What felt bad? When you can take a detached look at your role in everything, you move out of victim mode back into a position of power because things are no longer happening to you. Rather, your life happened in 2016 and not all of it was ideal and your role in it was, well, whatever it was. That said, it is also helpful to acknowledge that it is totally human to falter and that it’s okay to fall off the awareness wagon now and then. Just be kind to yourself – show yourself compassion and then try stay empowered through mindfulness and heartfelt actions.
Then and only then, do I think it is helpful to write out a list of what you are really grateful for. Be authentic here. Don’t write about something that doesn’t feel good to you or because you think you should. Write about what did work for you in 2016. What did your heart resonate with? What made you feel joyful, inspired, loved, supported etc.? Then decide on what you can do to bring in more of what you enjoyed experiencing in 2016. Bestselling author Danielle LaPorta of the Desire Map, maintains that goal setting is actually not about getting the tangible things we so often write on our resolution lists but rather that it is all about how you want to feel in the process of getting there. How do you want to feel in 2017 and what can you cultivate in your life to allow more of that to come in for you?
8 Steps to Help You Create a Great 2017
- Declare what is not working in your life.
- Be honest about what you could have done better.
- Acknowledge that it is not always easy doing the above and so always try and be kind to yourself.
- Write a real gratitude list – be authentic here. Rather write two sentences of truthful points than two pages of platitudes.
- Write a list of what you are proud of – set out to write two pages.
- If your automatic thought was that you couldn’t possibly full out two pages, I challenge you to think harder and again not to fall into victim mode.
- Recognise what you want to feel moving forward in the year.
- Begin visioning.