GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 28, 2012

Personal Matters: New Yaer's and the spirit of change

Personal Matters
Susan Britt

---- — With the approach of another New Year’s holiday, it’s important to remember that it is often true that endings and beginnings usually travel in pairs.

With the end of an old year, and the start of a new one, you may have many memories and expectations on your mind. The prospect of a fresh new year may give you just the opportunity you need to refocus goals and renew commitments.

It also, of course, can give you the chance to reflect on the current year’s accomplishments, and to assess your progress. Such reflection and anticipation are appropriate, emotionally healthy activities if they help you to learn and grow. The secret here is not to become caught up in unhealthy self-criticism.

For some, the New Year’s celebration can be a time of sadness, guilt, and frustration if the feeling that you should have accomplished more this past year overwhelms you. Perhaps your finances are still tight, or you remain at odds with your family, or you could not find another job. Maybe you didn’t finish repainting the house or you were unable to make a 3.0 grade point average at school. If you do not actively nurture your self-esteem you may start to feel unworthy, unsuccessful, defeated, or simply too old.

Evaluate your situation realistically and hopefully. Admit your mistakes but search for alternatives. Most importantly, acknowledge what you have accomplished. Then, re-examine what you want to do and where you want to go.

From a psychological viewpoint, the New Year holiday may not be the best time for you to make resolutions. If you make promises simply because ‘everybody does,’ or because you feel pressured into it, you can set yourself up for failure. Make resolutions when you are emotionally ready to handle them, whatever day that may be. Your chances for success will probably be better.

New Year’s Eve may not be the appropriate time for you to celebrate with a crowd, either. Ask yourself if doing traditional things is really the most nurturing approach for you. If you feel comfortable looking back on 2012, looking forward to 2013, and being with a roomful of people as you make resolutions for yourself, that’s fine. But if you feel dissatisfied with past events or future prospects, try breaking with traditional celebrations, and do something else to foster your emotional health.

Perhaps that means you need time alone, just reading a book or simply sitting with your thoughts. Try a walk on the beach, or listening to your favorite music or have a quiet celebration with one or two good friends. Perhaps you need to call someone to resolve an old argument. Perhaps you should spend time with others in the discussion of resolutions and their value. Nurturing yourself may mean rethinking how you deal with beginnings and endings.

Any change usually creates a sense of loss as well as of gain. The way that you handle a new year may be indicative of the way that you approach any transition.

Based in Rockport, life cCoach and psychotherapist Susan Britt, M.Ed., teaches individuals, couples and families to resolve relationship conflicts, clarify and achieve life and career goals, and accelerate personal growth. Questions and comments may be addressed to her at susanbritt1@verizon.net and by telephone at 978-546-9431.