I want you to reflect on how many people, including yourself, have buried our heads into the mess that has been 2020. Let get out of 2020 and into 2021 as fast as possible! I have thought a lot about how many days this year I have been wishing, hoping, and fantasizing about a future that is “COVID-free” and “back to normal”. For me, it was no surprise that this year went by so quickly because I have thinking way into the future in order to escape painful parts of my present.
I know I am not alone in this. I extend myself (and you) grace and kindness in knowing that we are all doing the best we can with what we have to live our lives. And also, with this way of coping and avoiding the pain of reality, I have felt out of touch with myself and the natural ups and downs of being a human. And as a result, this year has felt more like it is moving around me versus me moving with it or through it effectively.
As humans, we tend to only want to feel the pleasant things. And pain is either denied, rejected, avoided, morphed, or molded into something more tolerable.
As we close out the year, we are asked, if not expected, to keep looking forward. We might be asked (perhaps virtually) what our New Year’s resolutions will be? What our goals are for after the clock strikes midnight?
But today, I ask you to pause. Resolutions and goals are important. AND so is acceptance of just being wherever you are. I want to ask you to consider a new, perhaps different skill to bring with you into 2021: Turning the mind towards accceptance.
How to Practice Turning the Mind?
1. Ask yourself “What am I not accepting”.
Is it an emotion or other internal experience? A thought? What are you saying to yourself that rejects your reality?
2. Make an inner commitment to accept reality as it is.
Observe what it feels like to make this commitment and be mindful of urges, thoughts, behaviors, physical sensations, and emotions that show up during this process.
3. Visualize a fork in the road in your mind.
One way is towards acceptance and one way is towards rejection of your reality. What do each of those roads hold for you? What might happen if you reject that reality and what might happen if you accept it? If visualization is difficult, draw the fork in the road and explore what each of those roads hold for you with pen and paper.
4. Recognize the resistance as it arises.
What keeps you from turning your mind to acceptance? What feelings, behaviors, urges, thoughts, and moods would each road lead you to?
5. Create a mantra or brief statement that remind you that turning your mind is an available option.
Repeat the manta when you find it necessary to bring you back to acceptance.
6. Be mindful of when your mind begins to turn towards rejection.
This very well might happen because we are all human. Develop a plan to be aware of when it may happen again in the future.
Remember, anytime we are trying something new, especially when we are so used to rejecting our reality in a multitude of ways, it will feel uncomfortable. Anticipate this feeling, accept it, and turn your mind to it anyways and prepare for 2021.
About The Author
Lizzy Kosin, LCSW-C is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Therapist at Montgomery County Counseling Center in Rockville, MD. She earned her AM degree (equivalent to an MSW) from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Her training includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
Lizzy takes a casual approach to therapy. Because of this, she works very well with kids & teens. She also works with adults who want the benefits of therapy without feeling stuffy or over-medicalized. She values the importance of the mind-body connection and using experiential activities to keep the fun in building insight and motivating towards progress. Lizzy is licensed in both Maryland and Washington DC.