It's that time of year. The time to convince yourself that this year will be different. That you will make it to the gym three times a week, and get that promotion you're after, and miraculously have time to date until you find that perfect person. Yes, this year, things are going to change. However, the thing that hasn't changed is you.
What stopped you from going to that yoga class you always talk about? What kept you from signing up for Match.com even though all of your friends encouraged you to? Why didn't you approach your boss with the proposition you wrote ages ago, pointing out the major reasons you deserve a new position? The answer to all of these questions, is you. Now here's where you may disagree with me. There might be a million reasons why it's hard to read more or spend more time with your friends. But those reasons aren't going to go away. If you really want this year to be different, my recommendation is to get to know yourself better.
How will getting to know yourself better help you get to the gym? Find a romantic partner? Make time for your loved ones? With our fast-paced lives, we have gotten incredibly good at ignoring our feelings. It's how we stay focused on the tasks at hand. However, we have gotten so good at pushing our feelings to the side, that we aren't even aware we are doing it. Why is this a bad thing? Because feelings are our guide to what we want and don't want. We get angry when someone mistreats us, so we stand up for ourselves to prevent it from happening again. We get sad after a breakup, which tells us that we still desire intimacy and closeness. We feel happiness and love when we spend time with someone we care about, which lets us know we would like more time with them. But when anger gets confused with guilt, sadness gets confused with shame, and feelings of happiness and love trigger anxiety and fear of losing someone, our compass is no longer pointing North.
Perhaps you haven't talked to your boss because there's a small voice in the back of your mind telling you that you don't really deserve a raise. Maybe you're noticing a pattern arise in your dating history, but you can't quite make sense of it. And maybe you don't want to go the gym because it's boring and you would rather join a dodgeball league. Who knows? But a therapist can help you make sense of the things going on in your life, and help you get that compass pointing North again. Keeping your New Year's Resolutions might only be a small part of what you achieve from therapy.