by Dr. John Hart, LGMFT
Every year, right before New Year’s (or even on New Year’s Eve), we tend think about the year that is coming to an end and we contemplate ways we can go about the brand new year. We call these thoughts and goals as New Year’s Resolutions. Sometimes our New Year’s resolutions include things like going to the gym more, stay fit and be healthy, spend less save more, and/or enjoy life to the fullest. But there is another set of New Year’s Resolutions that are just as important and critical – ones that involve you and your family.
There is nothing wrong thinking about yourself heading into the New Year’s. But, you it is important to fully acknowledge and accept that we all do not live your lives without others. This means that our lives are interdependent with those closest to us and they affect us as much as we affect them. And so in addition to the resolutions that involve our own personal goals such as staying fit and saving money, explore new year resolutions that are ones for you and your loved ones. Here are three healthy yet critical New Year’s resolutions that we should all set for ourselves and work towards:
- When problems occur, work towards reconciliation: Arguments, disputes, disagreements, whatever you want to call situations in which you and another person (e.g., your significant other, family member, co-worker, etc.) are relating to each other in an unhealthy way are going to happen – that’s life. But most of our work moving forward in the New Year’s should be actually reconciling with people during these situations. So let’s be clear…reconciling is much more than just saying “sorry.” When we reconcile with someone else, the key here is it is going to take both individuals to reconcile. Share with your loved one what you will need to feel things are reconciled and you should ask your loved one what they will need to feel things are reconcile. Work together to make both of you feel good about moving forward. This is where our communication and problem-solving skills kick in. So in this New Year’s – let’s use them!
- Listen to yourself and take the time to listen to others: So, I busted out laughing the other day when I was watching a show and one of the characters said “you have two ears and one mouth…so that means you should be listening more than talking.” This is something that we should all work towards. Clinically, we tell our clients that you should listen and listen and listen when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Why? Because, something as basic as listening to someone is going to make them feel comfortable, safe and connected to you. And if you think about it, you want people to listen to you because it makes you feel those same things in return. So for the New Year’s, let’s stop talking while others are talking or thinking about our responses to someone who is talking and just…listen!
- Seek support during the good times and the bad: It is important to not feel alone during both the ups and the downs in our lives. Going out of our way to seek support from our loved ones is such a healthy behavior for our physical and mental well-being. There is nothing wrong with needing people during moments of vulnerability (yes, positive experiences and not just negative ones, can also elicit vulnerable feelings). But, here is where we stumble and this is where we should push ourselves in the New Year’s – find the courage to ask for support and express what your needs are to your support system. No more of the “I don’t want to bother people with my problems or make people feel bad with my happiness.” Social support is amazing and we need it for good and bad times – so let’s ask for it. And heck, ask for more of it while you’re at it!