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.
This 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?