Mindset Matters, Especially as We Leave an Old Year Behind
As we leave not only another year, but another decade behind us, I see people posting how grateful they are to put 2019 behind them. A year ago, many of us were grateful to put the horrors and tragedies of 2018 behind us. Is this how we look at our years, marching one behind the other in perfect rhythm? 365 (and sometimes 366) days we trudge through thinking: “If I can just get through this year, next year will be better”? If so, it’s a truly sad state of affairs.
Why, when a year is winding down do we focus on the times we fell instead of the times we got back up and kept going? When did our failures become more important; more memorable than our triumphs?
I have friends on social media who have beautiful families, rewarding jobs, incredible talents and gifts. Yet I’ve had to hide their posts because invariably, they focus on the days they have a headache, or their back hurts, or they had to spend the day in meetings instead of doing what they love. I have to tell you, though I have my bad days too, I don’t typically feel obliged to drag everyone who reads my page down with me. Trust me. Misery does not love company. It’s an excuse to wallow longer instead of getting up and doing something productive, fun, or both.
Looking for Glimmers of Hope
I’d rather look back on a year (even some of my most horrid) and find at least a tiny glimmer of hope; a small kernel of joy mixed in with all the crap I may have had to shovel. I’ve learned I’ll always find what I’m looking for.
In what I mockingly refer to as “the divorce years”, finding joy and hope wasn’t always an easy task. But I didn’t really have to look far to find it. It was in the faces of my daughters; in the laughter we shared; the hugs, the silliness, the togetherness. I might not have conquered the world during those years, or left any noticeable mark, but I found a way to laugh once in awhile, and more importantly, put one foot in front of the other even on days when I wanted to pull the covers over my head and disappear.
Having my mother end her life as Divorce Year 2 was winding to a close could have been a huge setback. Instead, even then I found a way to be grateful. Her demise was one less pressure I had to field in a world where I walked a very fine line between sanity and my final breaking point on the best of days. It left me with one less ball to juggle, and bit of much-needed breathing room.
Allowing Myself to Feel But Not To Wallow
That’s not to say all the emotions I unconsciously packed away and ignored for several years were going to stay buried, but by the time they came bursting forth in all their technicolor glory, I was in a better place to deal with them, and to finally feel those feelings. I won’t lie to you and say it was a pleasurable experience, but it was both necessary and cathartic. Once the worst of it was over, I felt like a new woman, even knowing I’d spend the rest of my life revisiting feelings, though from a stronger stance from then on.
Perhaps that’s why I take issue with people thinking they’ve left the worst behind. The events we experience in any given year of our lives remain with us on an emotional level. Some are a heavy, wet blanket, while others are a mere glimmer which occasionally grows brighter when the memory is triggered. Some changed our lives forever.
When something does change the trajectory of our lives, I’ve learned there is a reason, even if what changed it is as horrible as losing a child, a home, or several members of a close-knit community. I’ve watched it happen in the last year or so, as people have used their grief to raise awareness of mental health, suicide, depression, and compassion. Granted, they were subjects many of us were already talking about, but the causes were greatly elevated by the tragedies.
Helping Other Trauma Survivors
Many of the people who are speaking out and bringing causes like Give An Hour into our lives in a huge way could easily have crawled into that dark hole I mentioned, coming out only to complain about how awful their life is, and how glad they are to see another miserable year pass into the history books. The fact is, they didn’t. They used their own grief to help make the world better for someone else; someone they’ll probably never meet or even know exists. They’ve also been honest enough to admit sometimes they’re not OK, and need to withdraw and be not OK for a little while before getting up and carrying on.
Unlike so many, I look at 2019, and the entire decade as a period when I triumphed over adversity time and time again. I grew as a person, and opened up about my own horrible experiences, not by asking people to help me feel sorry for myself, but by trying to understand the lessons in the experiences and share them with others who might find them useful.
A side effect to my choices came unexpectedly. I discovered that sharing my experiences actually made me more approachable, so the years between 2010 and 2019 have broadened my circle of friends, and expanded my chosen family. My daughter, son-in-law, and I initiated the Conaway-Hewes After Thanksgiving Feast which just passed it’s 5th year.
Using My Pain for the Greater Good
The way I see it, you can take the body slams life gives you as an excuse to crawl into your turtle shell and stay there. If so, you’ll always bemoan the small things each new year brings and miss out on all the joyful ones. Or you can be a Phoenix rising from each pile of ashes, knowing what was burnt down had run it’s course, or needed to give you a reason to do something on a grander level.
As the tragedies and traumas in my life have broken me loose from patterns which needed to be changed, I’ve learned to take the lesson and do my best to leave the pain behind me. Rather than risk being accused of sounding cavalier, I’ll admit I didn’t leave the pain behind right away, and some of it still comes back to haunt me from time to time. What I have done, and what others are doing even better than I is to use that pain to propel me forward.
Pain can make you more compassionate, or it can harden you to the consistency of bedrock. Though the choice might seem out-of-reach at first, the choice truly is yours. Wallow in misery if you must. I choose compassion every time, after having spent too many years being miserable, angry, sad, and alone.
The Healing Powers of Gratitude
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve been given.
- I’m grateful for the people I’ve met who show me the good that can come from tragedy.
- I’m grateful for the people who show me what I could have been had I failed to make the choices I did when my life was in turmoil.
- I’m grateful for my friends, my community, and my adopted family. I know what love isn’t.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, compassion, support, community, celebration, life, giving, cherishing, belonging, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward