Happy New Year!
Are you feeling the pressure of "New Year, New You?"
Yes, I am aware that we were supposed to run the first edition of The Anxious Morning on Monday, but I’m impatient so here we are with a special bonus edition.
Happy New Year! 🙂
January 1 can be a day of reflection, remembering, evaluating, and planning. While I’m not a big fan of making it a special thing or hyping it up, I can totally understand this.
The New Year can also bring some challenges for an anxious person. The whole “New Year New You” narrative can be difficult to handle. On one hand it brings hope, optimism and motivation, but lurking behind all that can be some traps.
In our community, thinking tends to get sticky. Emotions and thoughts become far heavier than they otherwise would be. Almost anything can morph into fear, disappointment, or despair. In this context well-intentioned narratives like “new year new you” can get twisted. We should remain mindful of the propensity to interpret this kind of message in counterproductive ways that can lead to unrealistic recovery expectations, disappointment, or even accidental avoidance habits.
How do we do this? How do we give ourselves the best chance of moving forward in the new year without winding up disappointed, discouraged, and seeing ourselves as failing yet again?
First and foremost, consider that do not really need a NEW you this year. The current you is fine. You are not broken. You don’t need to rebuild yourself.
You just need to learn new ways to interact with yourself so you can start to see how capable you really are.
I know that your social media scroll will tell you that “new you” is the thing today, but let’s start from the premise that you do not need be replaced with a new version of yourself. That’s needless negative self-judgment that can set the stage for bad outcomes.
The narrative around “new year new you” is often laced with idealized references to amazing, life-changing transformative experiences that look great in pictures, but are kinda unrealistic or at least exaggerated. Those images and ideals not real. They are romanticized and exaggerated because we LOVE that stuff when we’re in the endless scroll of doom every day.
In reality, “new year new you” might simply mean getting up and brushing your teeth in the morning rather than laying under the covers ruminating and dreading.
That totally counts! “New you” happens in tiny, gritty steps that rarely involve good lighting, and are not good social media content. Please keep this in mind.
Reading more books and listening to more podcasts is a common “new year new you” theme I see. You know what else I see? Potential avoidance. Why? Because more reading and listening will FEEL like you’re doing recovery. But unless there’s some real work being done alongside that, it can lead to nowhere in a hurry. This can happen even more easily when your social media feed is patting you on the back for that reading and listening. It creates the illusion that you are recovering. If you’re enjoying the books and the podcasts, that’s awesome. But if you’re enjoying them and still refusing to go to the supermarket without a safe person, then that can be problematic if not acknowledged.
The Disappointment Trap
Finally, getting swept up by grand, dramatic changes made on January 1 can lead to disappointment quickly, and that leads to more negative self judgment for no good reason.
Recovery is an incremental process. It’s not social media worthy in most cases. It’s up and down. It’s day by day and hour by hour. It’s not always smooth. Sometimes it goes fast. Sometimes it goes slow. But most important, recovery is granular. It’s not grand and it does not lend itself to the idea of special days full of promise and epiphanies that change our lives in big shifts.
Expectations matter. Do not let yours get lead astray.
Take the day to reflect, revisit, plan, remember, and use it for what it is. But also acknowledge that you have work to do, that it will go at its own pace outside the bounds of a calendar or demand for rebirth or transformation, and that you are capable of doing all of it whenever and however it looks.