A Therapist’s Wish for 2023
By: Rochelle Perper, Ph.D. | January 6, 2023
This year I continue the tradition of writing about my personal reflections of the previous year, lessons I’ve learned, and intentions for the future. I hope that you enjoy this article and the musings.
At the beginning of 2022, I felt overwhelmed by all the catching up I felt I needed to do in my personal and professional life. For me, 2020 and 2021 were about surviving and trying to stay afloat. Suddenly, as 2022 began, I felt an expectation (mostly self-imposed) to hit the ground running. I felt behind, worried about how I was going to fit it all in, and surprised that my skills for navigating the “real world” had dulled.
The elements of life that stalled the past year due to COVID-19 resumed in one form or another. As good as it felt to socialize with more ease and enjoy activities again, we faced the challenges that existed before the pandemic that demanded our time, attention, and solutions. Still today, we cope with the cumulative, widely felt, and ongoing effects of the pandemic.
My process of navigating this new landscape included referring to the lessons I’d learned over the past several years. That is, to be flexible, to find creative solutions for problems, to nurture meaningful relationships, and above all to be gentle with myself.
Lessons I’ve Learned
Be Gentle with Yourself
My history of being hard on myself started as early as I can remember. I worked hard during the past few years to be gentler with myself and practice self-compassion. This means that I allow myself to feel whatever difficult emotions may arise and be kind to myself through the feeling. This practice doesn’t make the pain go away, but it makes the experience less intense and subside more quickly.
If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that no day looks the same as any other and that the future is not certain. We all do our best while learning new ways to adapt to the ever changing, unpredictable world in which we live. We all make mistakes (and I certainly have!), which is inevitable when we leave the comfort of a safe path and try something new and different.
When I am critical or hard on myself, I remind myself that I am human and that there is no such thing as being perfect.
Slow Down and Be Mindful
It’s easy to fall back into our pre-pandemic routines of not sleeping enough, of busy schedules, and taking our health, relationships, and the simple things in life for granted. It takes a great deal of concerted effort to slow down, especially when our instincts tell us it’s time to ramp up and get going!
I practice yoga, which teaches me the importance of breath as a tool to ease through times of discomfort and pain. I don’t know what I would do without this practice, which gives me perspective, calm, and a feeling of connection.
Incorporating a routine that brings you peace and helps you feel grounded and centered will pay dividends in the end. You can find peace through practices like meditation and relaxation techniques, taking walks, listening to music, prayer, or finding beauty in nature and everyday activities.
Nurture Meaningful Relationships
Meaningful relationships are one of my core values, and nurturing and strengthening relationships brings me a great sense of fulfillment. I have also learned that some relationships deserve more attention than others.
This year I learned the true value of working as part of a team that helps you out, uplifts you, and that you truly enjoy spending time with.
Remember: Nothing that makes a significant impact on the world can be done alone. Having amazing people by your side along the way is so important.
There will be people along the way who bring you down or hold you back. Surround yourself with people who celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of others and encourage and motivate you. True friends are the ones who are honest with you, who challenge you and support you as much in your failures as in your moments of success.
Continue to Invest in Yourself
As much as I find fulfillment in nurturing relationships with others, I must also be mindful to nurture the relationship I have with myself. This past year I learned to prioritize what feels right for me. I sometimes find it difficult to ‘say no,’ especially when I feel like I’m disappointing someone or letting someone down. I remind myself that self-care doesn’t always feel good and that we must take care of our own needs first – even if it feels unnatural. Like the oxygen mask in an airplane, always put yours on first before helping others with theirs. Do what’s right for you and remember that the people in your life who love you will understand.
Healthy relationships evolve and strengthen when each person takes responsibility for their own happiness and wellbeing.
Looking Toward the Future
The year 2022 wasn’t an easy one for me personally but it did deliver some growth and recovery for me too. I continued my personal development in therapy, went dirt biking in new and exciting places, welcomed new members to our talented team at Therapy Changes, hosted events that brought our work family closer together, and took my mother on a way overdue trip to visit my 99-year old Great Aunt in New York.
I remain cautious about setting New Year’s goals for myself that are too rigid and narrow. Those who know me understand why I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, but I do find the practice of reflection and setting intentions for oneself helpful. In the year to come, I intend to be authentic and gentle with myself, continue to develop Therapy Changes in line with our values, and welcome new experiences. And, if I happen to fit in a ski trip (the first one since 2020) I’ll be especially pleased. ?
If you or a loved one find yourself struggling, know that you are not alone. Help is available and there’s no better time than now to seek the support and guidance that you need. Contact Us to learn more about how therapy can help and to schedule an appointment.
I wish you a peaceful and fulfilling 2023!