A Therapist’s Wish for 2024

By: Rochelle Perper, Ph.D. | December 29, 2023

The new year signifies a time of reflection and gratitude. This especially reigns true this year, as COVID’s grip on us lessened. The national public health emergency officially ended on May 11, 2023. It’s hard to believe that only a short time ago the world opened up and things seem to operate in their pre-pandemic state again. Those first scary months of the pandemic feel oddly close yet so far away as many of us go to concerts and restaurants and fill airports again.

This year I continue the tradition of writing about my personal reflections of the previous year and intentions for the year to come. I hope that you can take away meaning from these musings.

Lessons Learned

The list below expresses some of the lessons I’ve learned in 2023:

  1. Change is a Process

The pandemic was here, and then it wasn’t. As psychologists, we know that change doesn’t work this way. Unlike a light switch, change is neither ‘on’ nor ‘off.’ The process of adjusting to change is more like a dimmer switch; a gradual shift from one state to another.

The end of the national public health emergency signaled an expectation that our lives would resume as they once did, including demanding schedules, overtasking, and moving quickly from one thing to the next. This certainly happened to me. Whether self-imposed or inferred from something else, I felt compelled to increase my output this year. Before I knew it, I found myself in the deep end of the pool.

When we push ourselves too hard, or have too high expectations for ourselves, we reject parts of who we are. We self-criticize and judge ourselves. You must learn How to be Patient with Yourself and Others in a Changing World and How to Be Gentle with Yourself. When we are gentle with ourselves, we acknowledge our humanity and that none of us are perfect. We embrace ourselves with self-acceptance and focus on progress rather than perfection.

  1. Slow Down and Be Mindful

It’s easy to fall back into our pre-pandemic routines of not sleeping enough, busy schedules, and taking our health, relationships, and life’s simple things for granted. It takes a concerted amount of effort to slow down and make our actions more deliberate.

Every moment provides an opportunity for mindfulness. Being mindful is when you engage your awareness on the present moment and fully participate in even the smallest aspects of your life. It might not seem so at first, but even the smallest day-to-day activities offer up times for ‘mindful moments.’

There are several reasons why we move too quickly from one thing to the next. For example, keeping ourselves overloaded allows us to avoid confronting strong emotions or a difficult situation. For me personally, I put too much on my plate because I want to feel valued. Growing up, I quickly learned that being helpful was the surest way to be seen and heard.

Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s not detrimental to help, comfort, and share with others, so long as you don’t base your self-worth solely on your service to others.

As much as I find fulfillment in nurturing relationships with others, I must also nurture the relationship I have with myself. This past year reminded me that it’s sometimes necessary to say ‘no’ to take care of my own needs.

  1. Focus on What Really Matters

Crisis and loss give us the opportunity to realize what’s truly important in our lives and to practice gratitude more deeply. It also gives us the chance to clarify our values and learn aspects of ourselves that we might not have learned otherwise.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

This quote reminds me that the most meaningful things in life are not based on ‘doing’ but rather on ‘being.’ Especially around the holidays, we attempt to do it all, which is not only impossible but also takes a toll on our mental and emotional health. Instead, reflect on what’s most important in your life. Align your activities and actions with these values to feel connected, peaceful, and fulfilled.

Looking Ahead

There are many reasons Why I Don’t Like New Year Resolutions, but I do believe in setting intentions, looking forward, and adopting strategies to incorporate lessons learned.

A Therapist’s Intentions for 2024:

  • Cherish life and loved ones
  • Focus on what’s most important
  • Slow down and focus on the ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’
  • Align my actions with my values by saying ‘no’ when needed
  • Savor the small moments
  • Adapt and allow change
  • Give myself permission to grieve


I invite you to take a moment to reflect on everything that you’ve been through during the past few years, and how far you’ve come. Give yourself credit for what you’ve learned, how you’ve adapted, and for your evolution. Some uncertainty will always remain, of course. Even with the pandemic emergency over, we may feel its impact for years, or always.

Working with a professional San Diego Psychologist at Therapy Changes will help you navigate the time ahead. Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques, your therapist will provide focused guidance and help you learn how to be gentle with yourself, slow down, and adjust to change.

Contact Us to schedule an appointment with a talented member of our team. At Therapy Changes, you will feel supported, safe, and accepted.

I wish you and your loved ones the very best in the year to come, and always.



Photo by McKayla Crump on Unsplash

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