Emotional Housekeeping - Reflecting on 2020

By - karengray
12.16.20 12:47 PM

It has been quite a year.

As happens with everything, there have been some wonderful things that have come from what may have been the most challenging year for many. People learned how to connect with each other in new ways, and with the shift to online work and school we all became neighbors. Communities rallied together to support one another. New lessons were learned, and we all got an opportunity to grow.

Are you feeling some resistance to reflect? That makes sense. We are naturally motivated to avoid unpleasant things. However, discovering you aren’t happy with your life is actually a good thing. Identifying the things that aren’t working allows you to change them. 

In the midst of planning and enjoying the holidays, I want to encourage you to take a few moments to reflect on the last twelve months, to recognize what you’ve accomplished, found, lost, and learned. Reflecting gives you closure to what has been and prepares you for what can be. It gives you the foundation for a fresh, new and exciting year and gives you the opportunity to do the emotional housekeeping needed to start the new year without that emotional baggage weighing you down.

For the most part we know how to take care of our physical bodies, though when it comes to doing our emotional housekeeping we’re mostly in the dark. And because we don’t know how to work with our emotions, we end up ignoring them, when in reality they are crucial functions that ultimately serve to guide us. This can be a time to clean your “internal house” and create space for emotional renewal.

Just as we accumulate clutter in our homes, we also accumulate emotional baggage: hurts, frustrations, and other feelings that sit just beneath the surface of our awareness. Our subconscious effort to keep these feelings from awareness can interfere with our moods and ability to live happily. In addition, and without warning, something happening in your environment can touch on this pool of feelings and affect your moods and behaviors without realizing it’s unfinished business that is to blame. 

Reflecting on the year can help you identify that unfinished business and resolve those emotions so you don’t end up carrying them into the future. Grab a pen and paper and take a few quiet moments to answer these questions for yourself.

1. Describe your past year in 3 words.

Think about your year, write down common themes or words that come to mind. Whatever first comes to mind is perfect. What you write here will help you to better understand your feelings about the year.

2. When did you feel inspired, alive, or excited this year and why?

Think about what made you feel fired up. Was it working on a new project, meeting new people, reading books, learning new concepts, teaching, taking action, sharing, connecting with loved ones, working out, eating healthy or traveling? What about those experiences made you feel that way?

3. What were your lowest moments this year?

Was it an unfortunate event, a loss, a failure, a mistake, a disappointment in yourself, a time when you felt lost, a misunderstanding with a family member or friend? If you find yourself thinking about more than one experience, was there a common underlying theme? Take your time with this one. These are the areas with the greatest opportunity for growth and healing.

4. What lessons have you learned?

What lessons are you walking away with? What did you discover about yourself, or others, or the world around you? What is your takeaway from these discoveries?

5. What are your biggest accomplishments?

What are you proud of this year? What did you accomplish, from the very small to the very big? Take a few moments to celebrate these successes.

Remember that this is big, important stuff. You don’t need to answer all the questions in one sitting. Take your time and really think about your experiences and feelings. Once you’ve answered all the questions, return to question one and see if you would change your answer.

By getting these thoughts and feelings out on paper, you have automatically cleared some space in your mind and made them tangible - something that you can work with, adjust, keep, or get rid of.

And if you find that you are stuck or need help processing through some of that baggage, it is more than okay to reach out to a professional. They can help you learn the right tools to help you let go, heal, and grow.

Happy Holidays everyone!∎

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