We crossed the threshold. It really is 2021!
“Good riddance, 2020!”
“Whew, glad 2020’s behind us.”
“That year was a real sh*t show!”
You’ve likely made these types of comments, I know I have.
But the reality is that the pandemic’s not over and violence against people of color is still happening and the temperature’s rising and…
Despite your understandable eagerness to return to what once felt normal, it’s pretty clear that our previous way of life isn’t very sustainable.
Disruption, fear, and sadness have been so up close and personal that it’s no surprise that you’re ready to sprint into 2021.
However, before you can fully enter 2021 with intention and enthusiasm, you’ll need to take an important step: Face the reality of how 2020 impacted your energy, mood, and state of being.
Moving forward and not facing 2020’s impact requires that you split off your energy and attention to avoid whatever is too painful, irritating, or sad. This typically shows up as over-doing it (e.g. eating, drinking, Netflix binging), or as under-doing it (e.g. avoidance, procrastination, denial).
Either way, you’re not wanting to feel what you’re actually already feeling but haven’t acknowledged.
While avoidance is a possible stopgap measure, avoiding a difficult situation or set of emotions will always run down your energy resources, which in turn, makes future actions more difficult and cumbersome. Like, welcoming 2021 in the full way you desire.
You’re likely feeling some resistance as you read this.
I know, I’ve felt it too — a general malaise on the one hand, and a sense of overwhelm on the other, that seem to have teeter-tottered back and forth last year. This is what led to the collective exhaustion of 2020.
See, if you skip acknowledging the impacts of 2020, it’ll lead to you wasting precious energy and feeling trapped in a dampened, likely anxious mood. Not at all the 2021 you envisioned.
So what can you do?
Turning & Facing
You can dedicate some time to turn and face the impact that the events of 2020 have had on you.
It’ll require a bit of time, and you might try spreading it out over a few different “Review Sessions” of 30-60 minutes each.
With pen and paper in hand, use the power of journaling to review and release 2020. Writing your experience will support the letting go process.
Note: University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker contends that regular journaling strengthens immune cells.
Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events helps you come to terms with them, acting as a stress management tool, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on your physical health.
Be honest and let yourself fully feel what you need to feel with no judgement or withholding – this is your own unique process. You can decide later if you’d like to share your review with a trusted other or not.
The 5 Steps to Turn & Face:
1) Reflect on the reality of what you experienced. What occurred for you – mentally, physically, spiritually? In your family? In your circle – work, friends, community? Did global events affect you?
2) Recognize your stress & sadness & grief & anger. Name it to tame it. Renew yourself with some breaths. Inhale life, exhale tension & feelings. Do this until you feel some release or melting of tension in your body.
3) Return to what’s important. What really matters to you right now? It’s possible that 2020 shifted your priorities or made you examine some of your choices. It might also have reaffirmed what you’re doing. Will you pursue the same path or choose a new destination?
4) Once you’ve gone through the Review Process once or more, write yourself a closing note, letting go of 2020 – all the grief, all the hard lessons you learned. (You can save it, burn it or share it)
5) Refocus your actions, asking yourself, “How do I want to show up in 2021?”
Review what you’ve written and select One Word that resonates deeply with you, one that can guide your intentions through 2021.
Try a few words on for size, checking in with your body to see what resonates the most. Pick that one, write it out big and bold, posting it where you’ll remember what you want in 2021.
As you follow these steps you’ll likely find, despite how much you resist or how tender it feels, that you feel a bit lighter – maybe surprisingly so. You’ll notice that you’re better able to hold both the welcome and unwelcome at the same time.
That’s the invaluable process of building your resilience.