The festive season is upon us and the New Year is fast approaching. At this point in the year so many of us are bombarded with pressure to ‘welcome new opportunities’, set new goals for our careers, health and love life. The concept of a ‘New Year – New You’ sounds great, but for many of us, heaping this pressure on can leave so many of us feeling lacking… So here are some tips to take the pressure off.
Make your first priority being kinder to yourself – So many of us get caught in a trap of thinking that the best way to motivate ourselves is by chastising and berating ourselves. This method already isn’t working for you so stop! All of us respond more positively to encouragement and praise, you are no different…it’s just that you need to learn to become your best cheerleader. It might feel really unfamiliar to yourself at first, but persevere and you’ll see that energy shift start to flow.
Give Yourself Time – We live in a very reactive society where instant gratification is becoming the norm. When we apply these expectations to ourselves we are setting ourselves up for failure and this just exacerbates that internal critique further. It’s a New Year, so you can allow yourself several months to action positive changes and remember that small steps lead up to greater things.
Write A Gratification List – The New Year is so often a time for self-reflection where we ‘take stock’ of where we are life. For those of us that feel we are not where we want to be, this can be a pretty low moment and it’s easy at times like this to fall into a negative rut. Writing a list of all you have to be grateful for can really help to shift your thinking onto a positive track. Gratitude is associated with improved health, helps us to cope with adversity and nurtures greater happiness…so get writing!
Set realistic Goals - Being hard on ourselves often means that we also set ourselves huge life goals that we inevitably struggle to meet. Sit down and think about making small changes that are achievable. A perceived lack of progress can be frustrating so keep praising yourself for any changes that you manage to make. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have the odd slip, change is not linear, there are often bumps in the road and often these ‘bumps’ are opportunities for us to reflect and to learn. When we embrace our challenges as free tuition…we learn to welcome all experiences as opportunities to grow.
Be flexible - Sometimes we become so fixed upon a goal that we are not willing to entertain, or even notice opportunities that might be more suited to us. By keeping an open mind, we give ourselves permission to see what the universe and life is presenting to us, allowing ourselves to ‘go with what feels good’ as opposed to being rigid about goals, regardless of whether they are working for us or not.
Embrace the star you are – So many of us get caught up into setting goals in relation to what other people are doing, how they look and how they are living their lives. We draw comparisons between ourselves and everyone around us and ultimately this is really unhelpful and unproductive. Think about who you are, what your dreams are, what’s important to you and whether you are being the star in your own life. When we model ourselves on others, we’re just aspiring to someone else’s life which is either unobtainable or worse…a hollow victory if we do get there.
Stop trying to be the best – There is such a lot of pressure on each of us to ‘be the best we can be’, in my experience that doesn’t give us much space to fail and make mistakes. It’s through our mistakes that we learn about who we are and what we need. Living a life where you consistently prioritise your own needs and focus your attention on love and gratitude is often all we need to feel good. It’s not all about being the best, sometimes it’s just about being enough.
Emmy Brunner is a psychotherapist, mental health speaker, CEO of The Recover Clinic and author of ‘Trauma Redefined’ available for download and on Amazon Kindle for £5 with profits going to the Brunner project.