Monday, December 31, 2018

2019: The Year of Liking Myself

Each year I write down a list of goals for the New Year. Year after year, I make a list that includes the usual suspects: lose weight, get a better job, exercise an hour a day, go on a 1,000 calorie a day diet, become a super model. Okay, that last one was never on my list. However, when I look at these lists, embedded within each goal is a kernel of shame whispering “You are not enough—and you never will be.” Many of us have these feelings, ranging from “You really stink” to “You’re okay, but still not good enough for xyz.” Each year brings a mantra of “not enough.” Well this year, my goal is to live like me, and LIKING me. Sounds crazy, right? Here’s my wild plan.
1.     Each day I will remember to be grateful for my life. I have a gratitude jar, one I filled with slips of paper on which I wrote things I was grateful for. I began it years ago and put it away. I’m pulling that jar out and adding a new slip: I’m grateful to be me and to have a great life.
2.     I will put things in perspective. It is not reasonable to believe, based on my age and chronic illness of asthma, that I will be a mountain climber, body builder, or super model. I don’t ask the dog to be a cat. I shouldn’t do it to myself.
3.     I will focus on what gives me pleasure instead of what gives me pain. Shifting focus and emphasizing the good in my surroundings may sound rather Pollyanna-ish. However, rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) has demonstrated that stinking thinking can get you down. Refocus, reframe, refresh will be my mantra.
4.     Grow older. This one is pretty easy. A friend who is a gerontologist told me, “The older we get, the more we become like ourselves.” I can’t stop the clock, so I’m going to accept that and become more like myself.
5.     Ignore the little stuff. That annoying petty gossip at work, the angry driver honking his horn, the irritated woman in line behind you. I’m going to walk away from the gossip, allow the angry driver to pass me, and give that irritated woman my place in line. What will it cost me? Five minutes of my time and I will receive a little more peace of mind.
6.     Move more. Notice I didn’t say run a marathon. Except in bad weather, I already walk our dogs every day. Adding a 20 minutes a day of stretching, weight training, or elliptical (better for the knees) cardio to my routine will enable me to continue to be active.
7.     Eat. Never again (except on Yom Kippur or before a colonoscopy) will I starve myself. Those days are gone. Food—good food is the fuel we need to work, play, think. The fuel can be low test or high test, so I’m going to do a better job of watching what I put into this amazing engine called my body.
8.     Drink. Water, yes, water, lots of it. The machine needs fluid to keep running right. Dehydration leads to a host of issues. And, yes, wine in moderation.  I didn’t say I was Carrie Nation, did I?
9.     Spend time with people I love. Negative, nasty people sap my energy and generate bad responses in me. Our lives are finite. From this point on, my time will be spent with those I love and make me happy.
10.  Finish a new novel. Hey! That’s not saying I’m not good enough! That’s saying, “I am good enough!” Every new book requires the author to take risks, to brave the fear of finishing and of criticism. This year, it’s going to be number four in my Hotel LaBelle Series. I can’t wait to dive into it.
When someone says you will never do such and such, don’t buy into their low self-esteem and put downs. They do that to feel better about themselves. It is never too late to say, “I’m good enough” and to like yourself. 2019 is going to be a GREAT year!

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