5 Ways To Honor Yourself This Year

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ways to honor yourself in the new year

The New Year is an exciting time full of possibility. It is a time for change and new beginnings. It is often a time designated to evaluate one's current situation — both personally and professionally — and to make proclamations (resolutions) about how things can improve or grow. While this tradition can be a wonderful exercise and can motivate some fantastic developments in life, it can also create anxiety. Anxiety that likely comes from guilt about not knowing what resolutions to make and not knowing what resolutions, if made, are manageable. This very anxiety can result in people balking at resolution-making altogether and/or avoiding helpful self-reflection in the New Year.

So this year, in place of and/or alongside resolution making, I am proposing that one set aside time for themselves.

Here are ways to to honor yourself in the New Year. 

1. Honor the life you have created

This notion sounds simple, maybe even obvious. But it is something that is often dismissed, avoided or forgotten. We spend so much time focusing on what isn't—the things we must do, the things we haven't done, the things we can't get ourselves to do—that we forget. We forget what we have done. Set aside time to really consider, really reflect on, what you have brought into your life. Reflect on the connections you have made—with family, friends, significant others, children and strangers as you move through the day. Who do you touch with the work you do, the help you provide, the smile you offer? This exercise is not about judging how big or small the quality of your creations are.

This exercise is about honoring, in this last year, how your unique qualities have resulted in creating moments, friendships, exchanges, productivity, wisdom, intimacy and more. And this can be anything from connecting with the grocery clerk, your favorite pet or your new husband. This can include picking up trash in a park, to letting a car pass you or to volunteering for charity work. It's about how you use yourself in an hour, a day, a week, and ultimately a year to make a difference to yourself or another. Hold tight to what you discover in this exercise. These are the building blocks of you and of who you are. They are precious and important and must be regularly recognized and honored.

2. Honor your struggles

This idea perhaps seems counter-intuitive. Our struggles often run deep, are painful, ongoing and fraught with uncertainty and fear. So why honor them? Seems much better to push them away, think about them as little as possible. We honor them because these experiences are the very origin of our growth as human beings. It is in these struggles that we often find our strength, expansiveness, and ultimately, wisdom. These are experiences in our lives that teach us, that help define how we move through the world. They are as important as the lovely things we are blessed to experience…because they are as if not more defining. How we handle/recover from/communicate about the struggles we are experiencing becomes integrated into the very fabric of who we are. So we must manage this process closely in order to have a deliberate say about how we think, talk about and cope with these challenges.

Life is messy, imperfect, and often unfair and it is extremely complex to deal with these painful realities. But we must develop a clear policy to do so. And the policy must start with honoring our struggles as growth opportunities and as the price to pay for being human. Honoring your struggles includes getting in touch with your true emotions about those very struggles, getting more conscious and deliberate about how you cope with those struggles, communicating these challenges to a trusted other, and seeking help from a professional if you are unable to find your way through a dark night. Getting closer, rather than farther away from one's difficulties paradoxically makes these very difficulties less daunting, less ominous, and ultimately opens the door for greater acceptance and growth.

3. Honor your life with gratitude

Gratitude must be included in the equation in order to take the full inventory of one's life. And it's not easy to do, especially when one is struggling and experiencing inequities or pains of life. But it is critical to set aside deliberate time to practice gratitude. Gratitude comes in many shapes and sizes. It's easy to have gratitude for the really big and wonderful things. Because we are so moved from emotion and pleasure or relief, it is almost an automatic, involuntary process to be grateful. But it is for the smaller, more intimate, more sustaining, mundane, and difficult parts of life for which we must practice regular gratitude. Gratitude for making it through the day, for a garden blooming, for a moment shared with a child/friend/significant other, for a kindness showed by a stranger, for a perfect cup of coffee, for an easy commute, for a quiet moment with a pet, for a sunset, a bird, a flower, are all part of what makes living in this world magical and tolerable and memorable. Life will change if you practice more gratitude. It’s guaranteed! 

4. Honor your purpose

We all have a reason to be here. Some are more clear on their purpose than others. Make this year a discovery and honor why you are here. What unique qualities do you bring to your every day life that create purpose? Purpose doesn't necessarily have to mean that you have uncovered that your life's work is to be a teacher, or lawyer, or doctor…although it might be. Purpose doesn't mean you have done something or said something that has impacted many…although it might be. Purpose means that you have found a way to use your life to make a difference. And the difference could be made in your own life, your pets' lives, your children's lives, a strangers' life. And it doesn’t have to be some huge, ongoing contribution. It's about creating a collection of moments in your life where you use your unique gifts to make a difference.

Maybe your smile brightens people's day, maybe your quiet strength is stabilizing to others, maybe your humor provides relief in tense moments, maybe your art touches people, maybe how you care for animals or the planet impacts living things, maybe you love to soak up the work of others and have become an artful audience member. Whatever your contributions may be, notice them and honor it. More building blocks of who you are that will make everyday feel more directed and purposeful, and perhaps, at moments, more joyous! 

5. Honor your life with self acceptance

It is quite challenging to do any of the above without self-acceptance—about where you are and about where you are not. Let this be the day where you give yourself a break, tell yourself you are doing the best you can and honor where you are. In spite of all the messiness, imperfections and mistakes, take a moment to accept yourself as human, as flawed and as a work in progress. We all are. Every one of us. And life will always look like that…a path of growth and stagnation, of ebbs and flows, of successes and failures of moments and regrets.

Accept yourself for being a flawed human, congratulate yourself on the struggle and commit to a dual path of moving forward while honoring right where you are. It is the trickiest aspect of humanity, but it is what makes us such unique creatures. It's the ability to hold more than one thing in our minds about ourselves and the world at a time. So as you reflect on this article, yourself, last year, and this year ahead, take a deep breath, close your eyes and honor yourself for where you are at this very moment. Now that's a resolution! 

Dr. Hillary Goldsher, Psy.D, MBA is a licensed clinical psychologist who has a private practice in Beverly Hills, CA.