Coming into a new year, a widely celebrated turning point in time, we’re often bombarded with the idea that we must make it an important change in our individual lives. The emphasis for change is all around us and we often pressure ourselves into the “new year, new me” mindset, deciding on leaving part of ourselves in the previous year so that we can focus on developing a new version of us. However, this year I’ve decided to approach change differently. I won’t try to shed the things I don’t like about myself or put focus on my negative traits, but instead, I’ll work more on accepting who I am. I feel as though who I am has gotten me here, so I can’t be all bad. This year I’ll be changing by way of being grateful for the process rather than pining for the outcome.
Let’s remember that changing is becoming who we aspire to be, but it can also be embracing who we already are and who we are not. I want to make it clear that in no way do I think getting rid of toxic habits is a bad thing, but that we should ask ourselves what makes our habits toxic in the first place. Assessing ourselves can show us that sometimes our habits aren’t necessarily bad, but that we can just be painfully hard on ourselves and be convinced that our habits are worse than what they are. We can also get caught up in the negativity and lead into disappointment from not removing our traits, rather than having pride in improving them. Next time you decide to drop a bad habit, pay attention to how you address yourself. Are you using harmful language with yourself? Do you have negative words in your “pep talks”? Go easy on yourself and do your best to be your own cheerleader. Come from a place of understanding and realize that sometimes the habit itself isn’t the problem, it’s how we’ve been handling it. For example, up until recently I would mentally punish myself for lack of productivity. I felt as though not being active enough was a bad habit. Now, I know better. Yes, my laziness is a bad habit, but exhausting myself on hating that trait wasn’t the way to solve things. I turned my bad habit into a good one by not eliminating laziness, but addressing it in the positive. I began appreciating my ability to relax and redirected my thoughts from self-scolding, to using my mental time to think about what I can do when I finally feel like making moves. Doing this saves me energy and allows me to work on myself internally so that when my mood adjusts and I’m productive, I can apply my thoughts to real life and put my ideas into action. Don’t turn your willingness to grow into judgment for having not already grown. That urge you have to change is there to help you, never to hold you back.
Another thing to keep in mind while you’re going through your New Year change is to not forget the great things about yourself. When focusing on something new, we can sometimes take the old things for granted and shelf them for a while. Improving the bad habits isn’t replacing the good ones we already have. Take a minute to assess yourself again, but this time don’t ask yourself about what you want to change – remind yourself of the things you wouldn’t. There are so many positive things about us that we can forget they aren’t necessarily standard and deserve recognition every now and then. If sticking to your New Years resolution becomes tiresome or draining, it’s okay to put it on hold while you take time to work on the things that you enjoy doing. I have to remind myself sometimes that there’s room for improvement on everything. So, while I love developing my skills as a collage artist, I can get frustrated with not being able to express myself as accurately as I want because I haven’t acquired the skill to do so yet. But in order to bring my frustration down, I step away from the piece I’m working on and I express myself in a way I know I’m good at, which is writing. Then, I use my talents in writing as a way to energize and inspire myself to go back to the art piece and work on it again with a fresh mind. Remembering the talents and skills we’ve already enhanced is a good way to navigate the things we want to expand.
Overall, in this new year remember that past-you and present-you have to work together to build future-you and that the teamwork you create within yourself will go a long way. Don’t leave the old you in previous years. Old you helped you get this far.
Georgia St. Jones is a California broke girl using music, art, and literature as a way to be universal and staff contributor for The Strange is Beautiful.
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