At the end of 2020, I had some ideas on how I wanted to navigate 2021. In true form, I was hopeful as I tend to be. I captured these ideas in my popular blog post Top things I’m letting go of in 2021. I was determined to work on things that were in my control despite the chaos in the world such as the pandemic. So how did I do in the 6 areas I identified as wanting to let go of in 2021? Spoiler alert, I didn’t totally eradicate everything on my list. And it would have done me some good to review my list periodically throughout the year.
1. Offence – I think I did alright here when it came to other people that don’t live in my house. I indicated that I would forgive people immediately, and for the most part, I did. However, when you’re in a marriage, offenses occur on a daily basis. When you have children and they live with you, offenses occur on a daily basis. You get where I’m going with this, don’t you? I was constantly challenged with not taking offense with my family. They know how to tug on my weaknesses and which buttons to press. It’s an ongoing process and at least I’m aware.
2. Stressing – I indicated I would stop stressing about my never ending workload. I realized I needed help outside of myself and my circle of friends and family to tackle stress. Therefore, I’ve been investing my time and resources in working with a therapist since April 2021. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in 2021. She gives me lots of tools and homework to help me manage, plus I get assessments every few months to track my stress levels. I wrote about some of my therapy experience in the blog post What therapy is teaching me. Some of the tools are deep breathing, journaling, exercising, meditating, speaking assertively (practice exercises), and engaging in planned and unplanned mindful activities. I also tend to my beautiful 60+ plants throughout the inside and outside of my home. My cats, Beignet and Cannoli, also help me keep stress at bay with their loving presence.
One other thing about stressing I said I would let go of is not worrying about cooking for my family because they often prefer to eat out. Well, to my surprise, it wasn’t long before they started complaining that I wasn’t cooking as much for them like I used. So, I amped up my cooking for a while, but slowed down again since I started my vegan/plant-based journey in June 2021. I do make it a point to make them a meal at least once a week, but it’s too much to cook meals for myself and them at the same time. They are welcome to my meals, but they seldom partake except for my son on occasion. They’ve become a very self-sufficient bunch, especially since I ensure we have well stocked groceries.
3. Bad Sleep Habits – I indicated that I would go to bed earlier instead of waiting until 10:30pm to either get ready for bed or go to bed. After experimenting, I learned it’s best for me to start getting ready for bed at about 8:00 pm so I set an alarm on my phone for this time every night, except the weekend. This time works for me because I love taking long showers or baths in my beautiful, ‘spa like’ bathroom. It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour because of my nightly ritual. I’ve been improving my sleep habits, but I struggle with insomnia possibly due some recent medications and my hormones.
4. Underestimating Myself – Through therapy, I’ve been exploring this one and can honestly say I’ve made improvements. At 48 years old, I’m at an age where I have several competing things going on with my life in terms of career, family and health. I went through a period where I felt a complete lack of control over things in my life, which in turn made me underestimate what I could do. What I particularly wanted to explore is why I underestimate myself with certain people because I generally exude confidence. I have tools such as my list of “Power” statements I reflect on that I not only memorized, but also stored in my phone so I can refer to them when needed. I’ve had tough conversations with several people in 2021 and gained more confidence after tackling those situations.
5. Weight – Welp, I didn’t lose weight. In fact, I gained a few pounds…even with being on a vegan/plant-based diet for 6 months. There are some other reasons for that such as taking a medication by way of injection for 4 months to prepare my body for a surgery (future post) I’m having soon. However, physical weight is not the only weight I hoped to lose. I’ve been actively utilizing the tools from my therapy sessions to help me.
6. Guilt – The key to this one is self-compassion. I never thought about being compassionate with myself until my therapist encouraged me to do so. This was a difficult concept for me to grasp because I only think about compassion for others. An exercise I did to help me was made a list of how I can express self-compassion. When my internal dialogue sounds negative, I review my list and do some deep breathing exercises. I refer to my list often.
Although I didn’t know it when I wrote the initial post, therapy has been tremendous in helping me overcome many of the things I identified. Perhaps I was being overzealous when I indicated I would “let go” of them in 2021. Perhaps the question isn’t how did I do, but how am I doing? It’s a process that I can’t put a time stamp on that may take a lifetime. I know how difficult it can be to change patterns of thinking because I’m going through that now. I will definitely continue to work on letting go so I can have a more peaceful, healthy, and happy life.