Out with the old in with the new! Not so, for the new year is neither a purely new beginning nor the finality of things past, it is more like a moving on.
Two thousand twenty-three will arrive and people the world over will attempt a quick fix for unwanted behaviors, habits and thoughts. More diet pills, self-help books and exercise equipment will be purchased than at any other time of the year, not to mention the overload of google searches looking for information on improving health, emotions, and relationships. Typically, new year resolutions promise a fresh start leading to physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Unfortunately, well-established behaviors are not so easy to fix, and so the truest thing I know about new year resolutions is that change is intimidating, challenging work. Sure, taking off the extra pounds sounds good, but musing over the personal benefits just isn’t enough to conquer the dietary changes. Similarly, even the more pleasurable resolutions, such as the promise to spend more time with those we love, can be challenging. Change requires that we steadily break down worn out habits. It’s not easy when the time comes to do things in a new way. If you are attempting a lifestyle change for 2023, here are some tips:
- Change one thing at a time, taking on too much is a sure path to failure.
- Be clear about what you want, instead of “I want to lose weight”, consider “I want to lose five pounds in the next three months”.
- Having a recurring pep phrase, a positive, short, epigrammatic mantra works well. “I am moving toward a healthier me”. Repeat as often as you need to.
- Celebrate the small successes, for these add up to the big ones.
Bereavement work has taught me that one of the most taxing aspects of grief is the change that comes with loss. When someone we love dies, we are in new territory, a world without them affects so much of our daily life. There are constant reminders that things have changed. It is natural to resist moving on without them. If you struggle with change associated with a death loss, keep in mind:
- Priorities change when someone we are close to dies. If the person lived in our home, we may be making decisions and taking on tasks that are new to us, this type of change is exhausting and can easily become overwhelming. Say “Yes” to those who offer to share the burden.
- Remember that relationships change. Sometimes people who were a part of your everyday life before a loss are no longer there and some who were transient become central to your healing. Family members relate differently when a member of the family has died, some members assume a new role to help accommodate the loss, some become absent to avoid the loss. These changes can be unsettling but are expected.
- To a greater or lesser degree there is typically a change in routine when someone passes. Be gentle with yourself as the old way of doing things fades away and new habits settle in. Most grievers report that the smallest change in routine can cause them the greatest distress. In time, with practice, a new routine can become as comfortable as the former one.
- Because grief is exhausting, emotional work even a slight change can become monumental. You do not have to do everything; when someone offers to ease the day, whether sharing a cup of tea or doing your grocery shopping, let them. In time, new responsibilities and routines will be established, but until then, if help is offered, graciously accept it, it promotes healing.
- Activities and interests may change as you build a new life. Never underestimate the healing power that comes with trying something new or involving yourself with a new group of people.
As we turn the calendar to 2023, some people struggle with lifestyle changes, some are overcome with the changes a death has brought to their life. Befriending change, whether self-directed or from an unexpected tragedy, must become a labor of love. The better part of change is an opportunity, the chance to see the world in a unique way, and to receive unexpected blessings. Instead of lamenting, “I am so glad to be done with 2022”, let us honor the wisdom, love and blessings it gave us and take these into the next step of our journey.
Wishing you peace in all that 2023 brings you.