2021: Charting a New Course

2021: Charting a New Course

If you’re anything like me, you’ve already lost sight of your 2021 goals…

Once the holidays were over, I became subsumed by life chores and work… so much so, that now I can’t even remember what I was aiming for in 2021.

I fall into this holding pattern every year: I believe that if I get on top of things, I will be able to carve out time for my life goals.

This is an obvious mistake, as life admin and work never shrinks: It’s like a hungry beast that needs feeding everyday.

And so this year, i’ve decided to ditch all goal-setting and New Years resolutions, and instead practise acceptance around this particularly painful reality that I will never concur life chores. For all of my adult life I’ve been in denial around this simple fact. And this denial is precluding my ability to focus on what’s most important in life.

So, my goal this year is to practise acceptance around the fact that life will always involve work… it simply never goes away.

Practising Acceptance

Practising acceptance around any problem you find uncomfortable or challenging, reduces any associated distress. For example, you may be filled with fear prior to an upcoming dentist appointment, so much so, that you avoid even thinking about it. You may even avoid booking future appointments for the dentist. By avoiding this fear, you’re maintaining the fear: You’re essentially saying to yourself “run away, this is dangerous!”. If you practise acceptance of your fear of the dentist instead of trying to “get rid of it”, you will reduce the intensity and duration of your fear. As such, you can proactively plan helpful behaviours, such as ensuring you have regular dentist check-ups.

There are 4 steps to acceptance:

  1. Name the issue or challenge
    e.g. Fear of going to the dentist
  2. Explore your fears and hopes
    e.g. I am scared of pain at the dentist, as I’ve previously experienced a root cannel that was very unpleasant. I hope that I go to the dentist and there is no need for a procedure. I hope the dentist is pain free.
  3. Focus on what you can do and what you can control
    I can attend the dentist despite being fearful and continue to look after my teeth. I can practise calm breathing to help with my anxiety.
  4. Repeat.

Saying these things out loud will relieve upsetting emotions associated with any tricky situation.

So what about you?
I wonder if you have some things in your life that make you feel uncomfortable or feel too challenging. Start by labelling the problem or issue. You can even come up with a cheeky name for your issue. For example, for my issue that life chores will never going away, I have labelled this “bottomless” which is short for “bottomless pit”.

So, when I’m in a work hole and I find myself thinking “I’ll just keep working until I’m on top of it all”, I stop and acknowledge the problem by saying “hey bottomless” and then I practise the remainder steps.

How can Peaceful Mind Psychology help with acceptance of difficult situations?

Our team of Melbourne psychologists are trained in a particular therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). This therapy aims to reduce suffering by helping individuals accept emotional pain or discomfort in their life. ACT is particularly effective for individuals experiencing chronic health issues, chronic pain, generalised anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety, body dysmorphia and substance dependence.

For some self-help around understanding and learning ACT techniques and strategies, start with some free resources provided by ACT expert, Russ Harris.

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash.

Typewriter with 2021 written on the page

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