As we near the end of this year, we start to think about the events of our lives and what has emerged for us individually over the past 12 months. Who is writing this story, this script? As we mentally review our lives the events, people, relationships and emotions start to crystalize and connect. As Steve Jobs says, “ You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So somehow you have to trust that the dots will connect in your future. You have to trust in something- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down and has made all of the difference in my life.” This time of reflection brings us into the realities of the areas of our lives that we think are important, bring us joy, things we feel happy about, drain us, cause us anxiety or sadness or that are ripe for the cultivation of new habits or things that we are simply grateful for.
As a therapist and life coach I find that the holidays accentuate heightened feelings and emotions, often fostering unrealistic expectations, so that instead of energizing us it can deplete us! These feelings can be more accentuated if we have gone through a major life transition- a death, divorce, caregiving for a spouse, parent or child, job change, relationship problems or move. We are trying to fit all of the new demands, physical and emotional, into our old life to create a structure that has balance, meaning and passion- without taking a breath! Not taking the time to stop, and process some feelings and emotions is the perfect recipe for creating a spiraling firestorm lit up by anger, depression and anxiety. We collapse and wonder why we are not happy- it’s the holidays- right? Time must be set aside to reflect on the dots, happy or sad ones.
I had a client that came in because of the death of a spouse. He was fortunate his company gave him the room to grieve. With the support of therapy he could process his grief, which is the key to emotional balance, and search for new avenues and supports to find balance and meaning- part of the necessary dots to move forward.
So as you review this past year think about the following :
What are the dots that connected?
Create some time for inner reflection. Write about what comes to you.
Journal the emotions that you feel you have pushed back about a relationship, a situation, whatever is unspoken that seems “ unspeakable”
Is there something that can change?
Write about what dots you would like to connect in this next year.
Describe those dots. These are the keys to your new future.
Write about what you are grateful for.
Angela Caughlin, LCSW