Faith, Growth

My watchwords for 2015

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but I do like to have a set of words that represent the growth I want to experience in each new year. My 2014 words were anger, serenity, and faith. 

Share the roadThis is normally where I tell you how I did with all of my words. Unfortunately, the only word that really played was the first: anger. Hoo boy.

Not only do I not like to be angry, I’m not keen on any strong emotions. I find them to be overwhelming. I prefer an even keel.

But in 2014 I had plenty of reason to be angry. I’ll skip the frustrating details. But some things went on early in the year that had me beside myself with anger. Those challenges lasted into the summer and had residual effects the rest of the year.

Through this experience, I came to realize that I’ve spent my life trying to protect myself against strong feelings — ducking them, denying them, driving them away. Moreover, this has been a major source of my stress. Rather than feeling my feelings, making any changes necessary, and getting on with it, I just internalize and try to adjust my life and actions around the problem. I take on too much responsibility for others in exchange for not having to feel so angry. I am not processing unwelcome events in real-time and taking available appropriate steps to correct them.

I see this as a source of why I tend to focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right in my life. I’m living in the wrong, rather than handling it so that I can enjoy the right.

It’s time to change all of that. Here are my 2015 watchwords:

  • Gratitude. The “attitude of gratitude” platitude makes me retch, and so I use this word with some trepidation. But I want to deliberately cultivate a focus on what is good in my life. There’s plenty. My cup overflows. It’s ridiculous. In 2015, I will pray gratitude to God for at least three good things that happened each day, and not pray anything else for myself. God knows my problems, knows what I need, and I will trust that. I will only thank him.
  • Power. I think I simply give up my personal power too much in the interest of keeping peace and not having to address what I feel. It’s time to step up, accept strong feelings, think through facts, and take concrete steps to address what I can.
  • Realism. There’s good and bad in life, and I want to take it as it comes — enjoy the good, do what I can to improve the bad, but accept it all.

2014 showed me I could feel strongly, set appropriate boundaries, and survive to tell about it. I’m doubling down in 2015 so I can access the good and the joy that abounds.

What might your 2015 watchwords be?


Here were my watchwords in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

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10 thoughts on “My watchwords for 2015

  1. “In 2015, I will pray gratitude to God for at least three good things that happened each day, and not pray anything else for myself. God knows my problems, knows what I need, and I will trust that.” – thank you for this, Jim. It really challenged me! I know I’ve been guilty of putting myself at the centre of the universe when I’m praying; all please and no thank you. I shall definitely give this a try as well.

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  2. hmunro says:

    This is wonderful, Jim! Kudos to you for coming to better grips with emotions over the past year — by better accepting them and channeling them, rather than trying suppress or control them. Our society has an especially tough time with anger, which I think is too bad because it can actually be very constructive when it’s expressed appropriately.

    As for 2015: Love your watchwords, especially “gratitude.” I often try to remind myself that when we focus on our strengths, our weaknesses become irrelevant. And I think the same is true when we focus on what we have, rather than obsessing about what we don’t have or what could be different. So … in the year ahead may God grant you the gratitude to appreciate His bounty, the power to let go of the negative people and situations, and the realism to be able to distinguish between the two. Cheers!

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  3. George Denzinger says:

    Oh man. I totally understand where you’re coming from. I too, find resolutions pointless. I’ve also struggled with my emotions for the last several years, having experienced setbacks both personally and professionally. After my older brother’s passing in April 2013, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I want (He died at the age of 60, far too young in my estimation). I’m not entirely sure I’ve figured it all out (and Fate may again come crashing down upon me like it has in the past…), but I think I made progress in 2014.

    My best to you on your continued journey. God bless and Godspeed.

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  4. Dani says:

    Gratitude. This watch word resonated with me and I think I shall nab it for myself. Resentment. Something I held onto in 2014. Resentment will be a watch word for 2015 with the thought that focusing on Gratitude will help release Resentment. Word #3 is evolving in the back of my mind. I do not know what it is yet but I know it is there. Word #3 will present itself when it is time.

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      • Dani says:

        Expectation. I tend to either set my expectations too high or not voice my expectations and then feel disappointment and Resentment when they are not met. There is that “R” word again.

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        • Expectation management is tough. When are your expectations too high and when are they justified? When should they simply be understood and when do they need to be explicitly stated? Good luck on that journey in 2015.

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