Author Archive

Think Happy Thoughts

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

by BRITTANY SENSEMAN, LPC-S

Think Happy Thoughts

When you read the word “family”, what feelings do you have? Some of you relaxed your faces and experienced joy, while others just got a knot in your stomachs as you felt the anxiety creep in. I want you to take a moment right now and figure out what you’re feeling. Seriously, stop reading and pay attention to what your body is telling you! I’ll wait…

Ok, now that you know what you’re feeling, I’d like you to think about how satisfied you are with that feeling. Are you happy with your reaction or do you wish it were different?

For those who are satisfied, congratulations! Either because of the choices of others or because of your own hard work, you have the luxury of family relationships that are enjoyable. This is not something to take for granted, so don’t!

I challenge you to take 5-10 minutes a couple of times a week (you can set a reminder on your phone if you want) and write down a positive memory you have with a family member. It doesn’t have to be a momentous occasion – it could be as simple as sharing a joke or taking a walk. This simple exercise will help you hold on to those positive feelings, and that will make your life better in every way! And for you over-achievers, you can share your memory with the family member involved in it to bring those positive feelings to them, too!

Now, for those who are not satisfied with your feelings about family… don’t despair! I wish I had the formula for how to fix every relationship and make it function beautifully, but I don’t – sorry! What I can offer is hope for better relationships in the future. That may begin by grieving the family relationships you have now. It’s important to first acknowledge what the relationship isn’t, so you can be content with what it is.

Once you have accepted how the relationship stands, you may decide to make some changes to make it better. I fully realize that this is not always possible or advisable. Improving a relationship requires each member of the relationship to make changes, and (let’s be real) most people don’t like to change. But, if you are lucky enough to be in relationship with someone who wants to make things better, talk to them! Share how you felt when you thought about your family!

If change isn’t possible for the relationship (and even if it is), I suggest that you focus on positive elements that you can identify. I know that for some of you, it may take some serious time and effort to find those positives, but it’s worth it! As I mentioned above, thinking about positive things gets a really good domino effect going.

Stressful thoughts activate systems in our body that signal it to be prepared to fight – increased vigilance, less sleep, decreased digestion, etc. Peaceful thoughts lead to an increase in neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin which leads to better sleep, better sex, and better mood. So, be intentional in your thinking!

I know we started with how you feel about the word “family” and ended up with neurotransmitters, but this is how our bodies work! You can change how you feel and how you behave, but you must CHOOSE to do so.

I hope this has encouraged you to make that choice and given you hope that you can enjoy your family this holiday season in a new and better way!

Trauma Resources

Monday, September 4th, 2017

Here is a list of resources for emotional management you may find helpful:

 

Making Friends

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017
By Brittany Senseman – MA, LPC-S, Principal

The summer before I turned 6 years old, I moved from West Texas to Houston, and it was a little rough at first. Where I used to live, there were lots of kids to play with who lived on my street. We just walked to each other’s houses and ran around all day. At my new house, I knew nobody; and because it was summer, there was no way to meet anyone at school. I got super bored and lonely very quickly… like I said, it was rough!

I used to ride my bike through the neighborhood looking for kids to play with; and even if I saw some, I was too embarrassed to just walk up and say, “Hi.” One day, I was again riding my bike in the cul-de-sac in front of my house, feeling completely miserable and alone. In a moment of desperation, I yelled at the top of my lungs, “I WANT SOME FRIENDS!”

To my surprise, a few minutes later, a boy who lived across the street started riding his bike in the cul-de-sac, too. Long story short: We became friends, and he introduced me to the other kids in the neighborhood. Hooray for a happy ending!

So, why am I reminiscing about my childhood? Well, it’s because I think friends are important and because there may be a lesson in this memory.

Friends matter because we are social creatures – we need people! Notice I’m saying friend with an “s” and people… not person. There is no way one individual can meet all of our needs, so we need backup. But there are times when it’s difficult to find these friends. For those of you who are in the middle of a move due to work or school (which often happens in the summer), this may be particularly pertinent for you.

Am I recommending that we start yelling in the street randomly when we’re lonely? Not quite, but sort of. Let’s look at my story a little more… Not much embarrasses an almost 6-year-old because she doesn’t know enough about social mores to feel ashamed. That said, I totally knew that it was weird to yell about my personal sorrow in the middle of the street. So why did I do it? I was desperate, and I knew that yelling couldn’t make anything worse. I assumed that anyone who happened to be home and heard me wouldn’t run out into the street, point their fingers, and laugh at me. And I was right!

I have generally found that people actually go out of their way to not make others feel ashamed. I think this is particularly the case when they are strangers or not close friends. When there is a higher degree of intimacy, some license is given because trust has been established. What this means for you is that when you’re trying to make friends, your risk of embarrassment is actually lower! Another thing to keep in mind is that many people around you are also trying to make friends and want to connect with new people. You’re not alone – I promise!

In summary, I’m encouraging you to be brave and strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know well or to join a book club or a workout group. Put yourself out there. Allow yourself to feel a little lonely and let it motivate you to make a change!

In the August newsletter, we’re including some ideas on where you can go to meet new people. So, pick a few that appeal to you and go for it! I wish you well in your figurative yelling in the street! 😉

The Burden of Politics

Friday, March 3rd, 2017
by Brittany Senseman, LPC-S, Principal

Burdens. That’s what I see most of the time in my office – people carrying heavy burdens desperate to find rest and peace. This is my work, and what I have done for the past 10+ years is meet hurting people in their dark moments and support them to a place of strength. I’ve been doing this for over ten years, but I have to say that the last six months or so have been different.

I’ve seen a new burden and have been hesitant to speak to it, and when I say what it is you’ll know exactly why I’ve been reluctant. It’s politics. Man, that one word was hard to write! Yes, politics is the new burden that has shown up in my office affecting individuals and families in a myriad of ways – and most of them were unexpected.

Relationships have been battered and some have ruptured. Hearts have been ignited and been broken. Some people have found a voice and gone hoarse in an effort to be heard while others have retreated into scared silence. Old memories of past traumas have resurfaced that seem unrelated to current events creating confusion and fear. These are just a few examples of what I’ve seen in my office over past few months.

The overall theme here is despair. Despair is not new to my office – I’m fairly well acquainted with it by now. I regularly work to find hope for clients who can hardly believe hope can still exist in their lives. But now this despair is on such a grand scale! Clients are despairing not just for themselves but for entire people groups, and I admit that hoping for a solution to meet the needs of an entire population is hard for me. In my office, I see how just two people have radically different needs and can’t fathom trying to find solutions for the needs of thousands or millions of people.

Over the past few months, it feels like a cloud has fallen, and in its fog we’ve lost our vision. If you’re seeking clarity, if you’re frustrated and spinning your wheels, if you’re sad and longing for comfort, read on…

Here’s my sage advice: HELP SOMEONE. Please don’t read that to mean “bring awareness to a cause”. Awareness can be paralyzing – knowing about all the brokenness of this world is absolutely overwhelming and depressing. If you want to feel better, get your body out of where is resides and take action to make another person’s day easier.

I can imagine some of you are arguing with me that you can do a lot of good from your computer or your phone or your bank – I don’t doubt it! But there is something about physically changing positions for benefit of another that just feels different. If you don’t believe me, try it!

Helping someone isn’t going to make the world whole again – it’s broken, guys. But I believe it’s a big part of what we’re made for, a big part of our purpose. We’re not supposed to be alone, and there is something deeply satisfying about connecting with another person when there’s no tangible benefit to us.

Some of you may have already found a place to engage and volunteer – awesome! For those who are still looking, we’ve listed some websites with volunteer opportunities for you to check out. If my words have stirred you even a little, don’t wait to click on at least one of these sites and see what’s out there.

Despair isn’t always bad. Yes, I’m a therapist and I just wrote that. Despair is a feeling to pay attention to – it’s a BIG feeling! It means that there’s something wrong, something off. So, don’t ignore the burden you may have felt for the past few months. It’s important, and you should look at it! But don’t stop with looking… ACT.

 

http://volunteerhouston.org/

https://www.volunteermatch.org/

http://www.houstonservice.org/#s

https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=Volunteer+Opportunities&find_loc=Houston%2C+TX

Making Christmas Mine

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
Brittany Senseman, ACW Principal, LPC-S

Holidays are stressful – this is not news. The demands on our time and finances this time of year are exponentially greater than the rest of the year. There are obligations everywhere! Gift buying for family, co-workers, teachers, various service providers – the list goes on… We spend our time going to our kids’ Christmas programs, work parties, theater productions, watching traditional movies, etc. Between our hopes and expectations and everyone else’s, emotions run high. It’s a lot!

All of these obligations can take away our joy in this season. Well, I say – let’s take that joy back! We at ACW want to give you some practical ways to do just that. Here is list of things you can do that do not require anyone else’s participation and that require little to no money. Use this list to keep control over your joy this Christmas, and in doing so, you will be better equipped to bring joy to others.

Enjoy!!! 😉

  • Make gingerbread, or some other yummy (good smelling) food.
  • Sing Christmas carols at the top of your lungs in your house or car.
  • Volunteer at a local shelter or food bank.
  • Attend a Christmas concert – many churches offer them for free.
  • Journal about what Christmas means to you.
  • Do a random act of kindness. (If this challenge leaves you stumped, may we suggest buying the drink of the person behind you at Starbucks?)
  • Decorate something – go as elaborate as Buddy the Elf or as simple as changing the wallpaper on your phone to a Christmas tree.
  • Read the Christmas story from the Bible.
  • Watch that movie – White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, The Holiday, whatever it is for you that really feels like Christmas.
  • Go see Christmas lights.
  • People-watch at the mall while drinking a holiday latte.
  • Talk to a child about the miracle of Jesus’ birth and the wonder of Christmas time.
  • Wrap a gift nesting-doll style, so the recipient has to unwrap many layers to get to the gift.
  • Make a Spotify playlist of Christmas songs you like and rock out to them.

 

What will make you feel like you really had Christmas? Pick a couple of things and make them happen. Don’t let the chaos of December define this season for you. Make your spirits bright so you have more to give. Make Christmas your own.

Dreaming Well

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016
Brittany new headshotby Brittany Senseman, MA, LPC-S, Anthology Principal

“My life is not supposed to be this way.” Ever had that thought? I don’t know a person who hasn’t! We all grow up dreaming about how life will be, and those dreams are heavily influenced by our family and friends. We idealize those people who have it all together and seem so happy. But, let me let you in on a little secret – they also occasionally think their lives aren’t supposed to be this way, too!

So many of my clients, so many of them ask me if anyone else in the world struggles the way they do. And my constant answer is a resounding “YES!” As kids, we grow up dreaming of what it will be like to finally be a grownup – what our job will be, who we’ll marry, where we’ll live, etc. The options are limitless, and we’re told if we just work hard we can achieve anything!

And then we actually grow up and quickly realize that those dreams aren’t always achievable through hard work. A lot of the time, making those dreams happen requires another person, which means it’s out of our control – ouch! We work really hard on doing all the right things to be super attractive to the “right” person, but still may not find that stable, long term relationship.

And if you’re lucky enough to find someone to commit to, congratulations! You may even get married and make the official statement of commitment and exclusivity, but eventually you’ll find that your partner has a few unpleasant surprises lurking behind a door. And then those thoughts of “my life isn’t supposed to be this way” begin.

So, before I depress anyone any further… let’s look at that thought and break it down a bit. There are some major expectations and assumptions within the statement “my life isn’t supposed to be this way.” If we have any hope of changing that thought, it’s time to look closely at those expectations and assumptions. Specifically, what is my job supposed to look like? What kind of person am I supposed to marry? What kind of house am I supposed to be living in by age ____?

Some of these questions might be a bit awkward to answer. I think it’s an uncomfortable idea that sometimes we expect a certain lifestyle and are unhappy when we don’t get it. It feels entitled or ungrateful – perhaps it is! But acting like it isn’t there doesn’t help anyone.

So get real with yourself and find those areas of disappointment, so that you can see how big the gap is between expectations and reality. Once you’ve looked at it, now you can do something about it! It’s difficult, perhaps even impossible, to change reality (and that’s another topic altogether), so let’s look at those expectations.

First, let’s edit them for time and experience. Those dreams, assumptions, and expectations were set a long time ago before we had any experience or knowledge of ourselves. See what happens when you look at your job not for what you thought it would be in high school, but as you know it is now. Maybe you’re not as ambitious as you thought, or maybe your passion lies outside of your work. Expecting yourself to be high on the corporate ladder when you’re not ambitious is an unrealistic expectation.

When looking at assumptions in relationships, I think it can help to notice differences between the family you grew up in and your significant other. Our “normal” gets set (in some ways) by the routine of our family: dad worked every day 8-6 and came home and slept. If in your current family, dad works 9-2, he might seem lazy, or if dad wants to cook dinner every night he might feel intrusive.

As you’re looking at this, try to see the positives about not repeating the patterns of your original family. Try to see differences instead of disappointments – be open to the possibility that you may not actually know what will be the very best thing for family!

If you can move those dreams, assumptions, and expectations a little closer to reality you’re going to feel less disappointed! So, as you continue to dream for the future, I hope that these ideas make it easier to say “This is how I thought my life would be!”

Please feel free to contact me with questions or comments.

Adulting: Navigating Friendships

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
Brittany new headshotby Brittany Senseman, MA, LPC-S, Principal

We spend lots of time trying to figure out how to do romantic relationships, but what about friendships? We have a lot more friends than we do romantic interests (or at least we should), so it makes sense to spend some time figuring out what a healthy adult friendship looks like.

I’m going to give you a completely oversimplified way of categorizing every single person on the planet into only two categories – yes, just two categories for 6 billion people. Here they are – safe and unsafe. Now, let me tell you what I mean by those two simple words.

In this context, “safe” means a person who loves and accepts the unedited version of you – basically, you can look or act in any way and a safe person will stick around. Now, that doesn’t mean that they won’t have a reaction to your behavior… but we’ll talk more of that later.

An “unsafe” person is everyone who isn’t a “safe” person. Clearly, there are a whole lot more unsafe people than safe people. In fact, you’re lucky if you have 3-5 safe people in your life. Now, there are varying degrees of unsafe people. Abusers are obviously unsafe, but people who can’t keep a secret also belong in the unsafe category. If you have to edit what you say to a person for fear that it will end up on social media, then they’re not safe.

You can still have relationships with unsafe people – you have to; there are too many not to. Those relationships will look different from relationships with safe people. With unsafe people, you won’t be able to share everything at all times. Sometimes you may have to edit a portion of a story, another time you may skip the story entirely, or perhaps you save the story for another day.

As an adult, you have significant control over whom you spend time with, so I suggest you pay attention to your ratio of time spent with safe vs. unsafe people. Unsafe people require more work (and the more unsafe they are, the more work they require), so you want to limit time spent with them. Make sure that you prioritize spending time with your safe people so you can socialize without having to expend much energy.

Notice I said “without having to spend much energy.” Safe people still require energy: they may need you to give them a break or be shoulder to cry on or go grab a beer just as much as you need them to. If you want someone to be available to you, you have to be available to them. That said, a safe person will let you draw a boundary if you just can’t be there. A person who isn’t okay with you drawing boundaries doesn’t belong in the safe category.

Sometimes your safe person may draw a boundary with you. Like I mentioned previously, a safe person will have a reaction to your behavior. If you’re having a terrible day and take it out on him/her, (s)he probably won’t like it! You might end up hearing about their displeasure – and that’s completely appropriate. Just because they’re safe, it doesn’t mean they’re a door mat. It just means that after you’ve taken your terrible day out on them, they’ll get frustrated/hurt and love you anyway. They don’t leave.

Safe people are a gift. I think they’re one of the greatest gifts, so don’t take them lightly. If you have safe people in your life, invest in them and tell them how grateful you are that they exist and continue to put up with you. And don’t forget to work on becoming a safe person yourself.



Interview: Making the Most of Your Children’s Summer

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

[We are proud to feature this interview with Amanda Lawrence, Educational Coordinator at The Harris School, loaded with great insight about how to spend summer with your children and preparing them for the start of the new school year well. Enjoy!]

Anthology Counseling and Wellness: What kinds of experiences should we be trying to give our children during the summer months?

Amanda Lawrence: Family time! Our lives are so busy that we don’t set enough time to just be together; parents are often juggling so much in their day to day lives. Commit to at least one day a week doing something fun as a family, get the children involved in planning the day. Limit the use of electronics and just have fun together creating memories.

The summer is a great time to build upon your child’s experiences and interests. Take your child to the library to get them excited about reading, let them explore and choose books that interests them, encourage them to look at both fiction and factual books. A trip to the museum can help generate a love for art, science, or history. These places can really highlight what your child is passionate about, and you can use this as a springboard to explore the topic of interest further together. Giving your child plenty of opportunities to be creative is so important. Summer is the perfect time to let your child’s imagination run wild and stimulate creativity. There are lots of fun ideas for art and craft project online; once you find an area of interest to your child, you can really have fun completing projects together. And finally, keeping active is also essential during the summer months. One good option is to sign your child up for local recreational or sports programs. Let your child choose what interests them – they may even want try something new.

 

ACW: What needs to happen during the summer to encourage our kids to be excited about learning?

AL: A lot of children think of learning as something that only happens inside their classroom. The summer break is great time for them to have some real hands on learning experiences, as well as realize that learning can take place wherever they are. You can use almost any everyday task as fun learning opportunity. I’ve listed just a few examples.

  • Cooking dinner: have your child read out the recipe steps, measure the ingredients, mix, pour, set the timer, divide the food in to equal portions etc.
  • Grocery shopping: have them write their own shopping list, find the ingredients at the store and count the money they’ll need to pay.
  • If you are going on vacation, have your child research where you are going by looking at maps, exploring how you will get there, researching places you can visit, perhaps even creating an itinerary for the family. Once you arrive, you can expand the learning further by giving them a daily spending allowance for food and helping them plan and budget.

The opportunities are endless and these real life experiences will help them connect the skills they are learning in the classroom with real life situations. They’ll enjoy the responsibility of completing these ‘grown up’ jobs and this will help build upon their love of learning.

 

ACW: What do you think of audiobooks? Are they as good a way to expose children to literature as reading aloud to them or having the kids read on their own?

AL: I love audiobooks. I use them personally and have used them in the classroom. They are a great way to inspire the reluctant readers and to bring the whole family together in the magic of a novel. To listen and follow along to an audiobook requires a complete different set of skills to independent reading: children are developing their critical listening skills and following along to a story at a fast pace. Audiobooks can introduce children to books above their reading level with more complex and exciting stories, which will also familiarize them to new vocabulary. Over the holidays many families travel: this brings about the perfect opportunity for audiobooks. Listening as a family is great way to get the whole family involved in the same novel and generate discussions and interests. Audiobooks definitely can play a positive role in your child’s reading journey, but should be used along side independent reading and reading aloud to give your child a richer reading experience.

 

ACW: Do you have any recommended resources – math worksheets, flash cards, penmanship workbooks, or books to read for kids?

AL: There is an abundance of great resources available for children these days. Some children love nothing more than a grade leveled activity book, with shiny stickers in the back! If you’re child is one of these children then that’s great – encourage it and take your child to a local book store to pick out some fun activities books to keep them busy and stimulated over the summer weeks. However, to some children, nothing sounds more boring than sitting down and completing that workbook. Ff your child is like this, that’s also completely fine! It just indicates that they most likely have a different style of learning. For these types of learners, you might want to consider buying a complex lego set that they can work on throughout the summer instead; they too will be practicing all those important skills, like reading instructions, problem solving, counting, estimating etc., but in a way that is more exciting to them. Either way, try not to overwhelm them and let them move at their own pace.

You can also review important skills by incorporating short activities in your day. Choose a math problem to solve over breakfast each morning. Play a spelling/word association game when driving in the car. Set aside some time after dinner each evening to read together. The internet is a great resource and has some great free educational sites that children can review important skills in a game format. A popular site with my students is abcya.com.

 

ACW: What have you seen that helps kids prepare for the transition back to school?

AL: After the long break, preparing your child for the transition back to school is important. The summer is full of fun, freedom, late nights and excitement; it is understandable why children struggle to get back into the routine and expectations when school starts. The biggest obstacle is getting children back in the habit of an early bedtime and wake up, the start of school often includes a tired bunch of kiddos by the end of the week. I think one of the best things parents can do is to get started early, a week or two before school starts, bringing about more structure and routine to your child’s day. Reducing bedtime by 10 minutes each night until you are back to a typical bedtime routine is a great way to break the habit of a late bedtime. If you have something fun planned early in the morning to encourage your child to be ready for an early start.

The start of school also comes with a lot of anxiety from children. New classroom, new teacher, and sometimes a new school are big changes in their lives. This is why you should prepare your child as much as possible for these changes during the summer. Take full advantage of the open house or meet the teacher: this is a great opportunity to reduce anxiety and get children ready for their new adventure. I once had a very anxious student who was extremely worried about having a new teacher. On the evening of meet the teacher, he came to me with an ‘All about me’ book that he and his mom had made over summer. The book gave me an insight into all his favorite things, dislikes, and key things about him. This made for a great ‘ice breaker’ and really helped him overcome his anxiety about meeting me.

The other thing that can really help the transition back to school is to keep in touch with your child’s classmates. This not only gives children opportunities to socialize with their peers, but more importantly, it provides them with a connection to school and the positive feelings that come with it. They will reminisce about school together and thus generate excitement for the new school year.

 

ACW: How do you know when your child needs tutoring?

AL: Your child’s report card should be a good indicator as to where your child is, and should highlight any areas where your child would benefit from some extra support. The best way to really tell if your child needs a tutor is by listening to your child. Is your child anxious about moving up a grade level or going back to school? If so, this could be a sign that they are struggling academically and would benefit from extra support. Listen to how they talk about the different subjects at school – while of course every child has prefers some subjects to others, more often than not a strong dislike is due to them feeling less confident in that area. Sometimes a child might be doing fine academically but still very under-confident, perhaps even anxious, about their abilities; these children would also benefit from a tutor to help build upon their self-esteem and make them feel confident in their abilities. The summer is a perfect time to hire a tutor and give your child that one-on-one support. Tutoring can instill a newfound confidence in your child and make them ready for the new school year. When in doubt as to whether to hire a tutor or not, if you can, then do! It can do no harm whatsoever; all children can benefit from having someone solely focused on them.

Leap Day 2016

Thursday, February 25th, 2016
by Brittany Senseman, LPC-S

It’s here — that odd day that comes around every four years as the sum of quarter days in our calendar (which honestly doesn’t make any sense to me). So, why do I feel the need to write about this, you ask?

Well, I like the idea of adding time to our schedules! How often do we wish we had just a few more minutes or hours in our day? On Monday, we get to add an entire DAY to the calendar! It’s really a pretty amazing thought when you stop and think about it.

Now that you’ve taken a moment to consider this idea, take it a bit further and think about what you want to do with this added time. I realize Leap Day falls on a Monday, and therefore many of us will have to go about our usual Monday routines… But if we really think about it, I bet we can come up with some way to enjoy the extra time.

Is there a restaurant you’ve been wanting try? Or maybe an article you’ve been meaning to read? What about a friend that you keep missing? Even if you only have 10 minutes in your Monday that aren’t already booked up, those few minutes can be filled with something “extra” and give you a little joy.

Yes, joy is what this is all about. Just reading that tiny word does my heart good. How great is it that we have it in our power to create such a powerful thing as joy! Sometimes we are given joy through circumstances or the thoughtfulness of another, but we most often receive joy through our own choices and actions.

If you want more joy in your life, you’ll need to be conscious of the things that bring you joy and then go do them. Thank you Captain Obvious, right? Of course that’s how you get more joy! But how often do you think through what brings you joy? When was the last time you made a list of things that make you look up and smile? Let me encourage you to not only make this this but also to keep it in the forefront of your mind!

Now that you’ve made your list (I’m assuming that you’re compliant and have followed my advice), take some action! You’ve been given an extra day next week – what a perfect opportunity to give yourself some joy! Make your plans today so you don’t forget!

Leap Day 2016 is coming – how will you use your day?

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 1st, 2016

Written by Brittany Senseman, LPC-S

Did my title just make some of you cringe? Don’t worry – you’re not alone. A new year can be daunting when everyone is talking about all the wonderful things they’re going to accomplish and how they’ll change into a super human who does everything “right” and eats lots of kale with chia seeds.

While desires to change and create good habits are great, the mindset around making those changes is often unproductive. Sometime around January 1st, we identify resolutions that need to be made and make a mental note or maybe even go so far as to write them down. This feels great to have a goal and  know what will ultimately improve our quality of life! Then comes the hard part… the follow through.

Depending on the gap between the new resolution and the current level of functioning, we may be able to follow through for weeks, possibly months. But because the new goals are often a big stretch, the actual changes are short-lived. Here’s where the sense of failure comes in – the defeat. Now those resolutions are not so helpful. They pretty much just serve as a weapon used to beat up oneself.

Not sure about you, but I’m kind of done with this cycle.

Instead of becoming a super human, shoot for becoming a better human. Forget all those goals you’re supposed to want, and aim for things that will make you feel good at the end of each day. Pick one thing that will make your day feel productive, and do it. Let me give you an example of what I mean:

If organizing a one-inch stack of papers will help you feel like you accomplished something, that’s what you should do. Attempting to create an entirely new filing system for three years’ worth of papers in one day will most certainly overwhelm you. Just focus on one inch at a time. If you can’t find a place for a piece of paper, and it’s not trash, make a new folder.

Now, what makes you feel accomplished can be entirely different from what makes another person feel accomplished. We’re all in varying places of progress in each facet of our lives. Exercise may be easy for you, but organizing isn’t – and vice versa. Let’s not minimize a loved one’s effort. Similarly, let’s not minimize our own effort but instead give ourselves credit for an attempt to change.

Change is… difficult, very difficult, extremely difficult, nearly impossible! Don’t lose heart when it gets hard. Know that you’re in the best company in this struggle. This road is not a straight line. There are lots of ups and downs and sometimes sideways deviations. Give yourself credit for your achievements and grace for your disappointments. Just don’t stop, and I bet next year the words “Happy New Year” won’t be so scary.

About Anthology

We are a group of professionals dedicated to promoting health and healing in the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. We believe that healing occurs more effectively and more efficiently when each facet of a person is addressed. Our group is comprised of professional counselors and a psychiatrist.