Psychologists and hypnotherapists know that anniversaries are ideal times to reflect and re-set because they stimulate our subconscious minds – the most powerful and able part of us. The turning point at the year’s end and beginning is one of the most powerful anniversaries we experience. It holds enormous potential for us to re-connect, re-balance, plan, grow, develop, gain wisdom and hence happiness.
1. Remember the big picture
We all exist in the time and space of history. This year has connected us, just a little bit more, in spirit with generations gone by who suffered and sacrificed, during events such as the World Wars and Great Depression. We need to remember that many then suffered far more than most of us have this year. Until this year, most people living in first world countries had a dream run for decades: of peace, health and balance in nature.
2. Meditate daily to re-centre and stay centered
Now – more than ever, for many people – we are facing so many challenges on top of our normal life challenges. Research shows that 20 minutes of meditation daily, for 21 days in a row, builds what I call “the critical link” between our conscious and subconscious minds. The stronger this link, the better we feel, operate, perform and cope. You can listen to my podcast episode 'Meditation and hypnosis as performance enhancers' to hear more about the benefits of meditation.
3. Practice gratitude
Now is the right time to stop and turn inwards, to look back with gratitude on the time that was. For better or for worse, it can never be taken away from us. Turn your focus to the joyful moments and memories experienced to help restore your energy and buoyancy and take heed of lessons learned.
4. Consider your overall life journey
Ponder on what has your life been about up until now. Have you been on the right track? If you feel you are bouncing back after experiencing some time of rest and recuperation, you probably have been living your authentic life path. If not, maybe you haven’t been. Have you been too afraid or unconfident to step up to the true purpose of your life? Do you need to re-consider your belief system? Is it just being tested, and you need to reconnect and dig deeper? Or does it no longer serve you, and you need to expand your consciousness? Don't be afraid to seek help by a professional to guide you on to the right track. A Psychologist or Organisational Psychologist can help you get clarity.
5. Take stock of your health
Pay attention to any imbalances. Health and environmental crises affecting you and/or your family? We can all step up into more courage and do something to help - it all counts. Does anxiety, depression or stress impact your life or that of someone close to you? This is an opportunity to learn about maintaining a healthy balance and mental health. Take stock of any possible addictions you may be experiencing.
6. Consider the people in your life
Ask yourself whether your relationships with friends, family and partners are healthy enough or equal enough. Do there need to be more boundaries, or more sharing of intimacy? Are you being a good support to them or overly supporting them? Do you need more mentors or surrogate or spiritual family, or want to improve your relationship? In my podcast, “Psych for Life, with Dr Amanda Ferguson”, there are a few episodes which discuss relationships and their many forms.
See Episode 4 'Surrogate or spiritual family', Episode 5 'Finding the right partner', and Episode 6 'Romantic relationships: ‘Does love conquer all?’, as well as my article on parental family matters.
7. Seek emotional freedom and maturity
When making big decisions, do you struggle in choices of independence versus dependence? This is a long-known part of our human condition - the eternal existential conundrum: independence versus dependence. Do you find it hard to speak up in some situations and wish you could? Assertiveness and empowerment can be developed at any age.
8. Learn how to deal with difficult people
Difficult people are unavoidable – we have to deal with them in some parts of our lives. The insight and skills needed go way beyond normal skills of conflict and resolution. Difficult people are bullies and need to be handled as such. They have lifelong, well-honed powers of manipulation. See my tips on my clinic website https://drferguson.com.au/dealing-with-difficult-people/
9. Do some planning for the year
Are you having trouble starting the new decade as you had hoped? Even if you have tripped out of the gate at the start of the new decade, the wonderful thing about this turning point is that there is another opportunity to start again, to reassess your plans, set more and grow. So much is written about goal setting – so little about goal achieving… and the inevitable failures along the way. My profession of Organisational Psychology found the answer decades ago. Our goals must be specific, realistic and timed – accounted for, ticked off the list and out of our diary! Breaking our overall goal into tasks that become mini goals is part of a successful process. Make sure your goals are aligned to your values.
10. Reassess your values
This year, more than most, restrictions have made it harder to distract ourselves from what really matters to us. Tennis sensation Nick Kyrigos spoke about basketballer Kobe Bryant’s tragic death early in 2020 and how the tragedy inspired him, stating: 'I feel like I’ve made progress as a human. Tennis player - I don’t care about, as much. But I want to keep going in this direction, for sure.’ (Channel 10, 6pm on 28 January). In addition to his basketball career, Kobe Bryant is remembered for saying he was driven to be a better person.
11. Look for the opportunities
We are being invited to stretch and grow by challenges beyond our control, that also bring opportunities to reassess our values and priorities, to re-think our futures. Resilience is being built in all of us through adversity. If we use this time and its lessons wisely, we can become more conscious members of society, helping ourselves, each other and the planet in our own small ways.
12. Believe in yourself
The great evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin showed how it is the fittest of species that survive challenges and that being able to adapt and build resilience makes us fit. Look for ways to support, back and build yourself. Self esteem, confidence and belief in ourselves stems from how we think about ourselves and what we show ourselves we can do by virtue of our actions – this is our internal-external feedback mechanism. ‘We are built to conqueror the environment, solve problems, achieve goals, and we find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve' (Maxwell Maltz, Psycho-Cybernetics) - this is how we build resilience.
So with these tips in mind, I wish you all the best for 2021. May the new year bring more awareness, proactivity, peace, understanding, health and restoration to the planet and all its inhabitants.