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End of Year Self-Care Reflection

(Free Downloadable 'End of the Year Activity Book' Included In The Blog!)

End of Year Self-Care Reflection

(Free Downloadable 'End of the Year Activity Book' Included In The Blog!)

This is it!!

It is — FINALLY — the final day of 2020! (Fireworks emojis, etc)

...But... well, wait... hold on.

How do you actually feel about the fact that 2020 is almost over? Grateful? Hopeful? But also kinda confused or sad or even angry? Sort-of a million-things-at-once feeling?

Yeah. It's strange, isn't it?

Do you sort-of feel that everything is different now, that maybe 2020 changed us, personally and collectively?

2020 showed up with a bang: nerve-wrecking global political stand-offs; heartbreaking wildfires, drought, floods, heatwaves; courageous social movements to unmask racism and inequitable systems of power; unprecedented political vitriol and violence... Oh, and a global pandemic that completely altered life as we know it — everywhere.

And through it all, we found ways to adapt. To carry on. To shower and sometimes not wear sweatpants and to conduct class or meetings over Zoom and to fight oppression — all while knowing that our health and financial safety, or that of our loved ones and neighbors (or democracy), could change, dramatically, at any moment.

To reflect on 2020 is no small feat.

But headlines and marketing campaigns are rushing us as far and fast into 2021 as our feet and wheels can take us, or worse, encouraging us to embrace the 'new year, new me!' mantra. Maybe they fear that in pausing to reflect on how 2020 has changed us, we might see more clearly what truly matters in our lives, and what only pretends to fill us.

There is only one day left of 2020: let's do something radical.

The Radical Courage of Reflection

Instead of saying 'good riddance', how would it feel to honor all that you have lost, learned, and become this crazy, painful, wonderful year?

Reflection is one of the most empowering and radical acts of self-care that we know of — the courageous choice of creating space for yourself, your story, your discomfort, your grief, your joy, and your dreams. To help you in this, we have created a Self-Care Is For Everyone End-of-2020 free downloadable activity book.

This is a chance for you to own your story — to see how 2020 changed you and which companions (thoughts, activities, exercises, friend groups, aspirations, work, etc.) were helpful or inhibiting along the way; to look at all that has passed, release what no longer serves with gratitude, and find the clarity and inspiration you need to be here, now — and who you are, now.

Resolutions generally come from the space of "I hate this about myself and want to change." Instead, through reflection, resolutions can be an expression of love, informed by courageous compassion and clear-seeing. Instead of twisting ourselves to fit inside of ways of being that will hopefully result in happiness, we ask what connections and what activities/connections make us feel vibrantly alive — and we resolve to make more space for those things in our lives.

A Pause Before We Pause

Sometimes reflecting on challenging times and memories can trigger intense fear, suffering, or sadness. You may experience pain or joy, depending on the memory you are recalling, or even feel as though you are reliving an experience. Please be gentle with yourself and check in along the way to see when you may need a break, or if you need the support of a friend or therapist.

Honor Who You Have Been: Ritual and Release

First question: how do you want to honor what 2020 was for you? What feels authentic to you? Have you had a chance to ask yourself this yet, or to be patient and curious enough to listen for an answer?

Perhaps you feel drawn to stream-of-conciousness writing, or to sharing your story of 2020 amongst a few trusted friends, or to releasing 2020 through prayer or gratitude or even in burning (safely) the pages of your reflection/ripping it up. Or you could try writing your reflections from 2020 on a piece of seed paper and plant it, so all that you release from 2020 may transform into something new, blooming to life in 2021.

You may choose to reflect visually, sitting with photos from the past year and witnessing how they speak to your heart. Are there things asking to be forgiven or released? Are there moments of joy that still live through those photos and faces?

Perhaps you feel drawn to considering 2020 chronologically, reminding yourself of what transpired month by month, making space for the totality of it, and recognizing all that you have been through and that moments when you could have been kinder to yourself (or others). Offer that kindness now.

History lives through us. When we take the time to courageously open our hearts and minds, honoring and releasing suffering, joy, love, fear, hope, anger, we not only release our direct experience, we release some of what has been conditioned into us (and, perhaps, passed down to us).

There are ten thousand ways to reflect upon 2020. The impulse to create rituals that honor what we have been though is ancient. A ritual practice that holds space for our unique needs and desires as we thank and release what has been and make space for what will come. Try not to get too lost in how it should look — instead, listen deeply to what your heart is asking for.

However you choose to reflect, these are a few practices to hold as constant companions on your way: curiosity and non-judgement, self-compassion, and reappraisal.

Curiosity and Non-judgement

To reflect is to learn that you are wildly powerful, and that you belong — unquestionably — but it asks for your most courageous, generous, non-judgmental listening.

2020 was a year of beginning to see things as they are, instead of living our lives simply from the stories in our heads. We saw privilege and power, and our inescapable interconnectedness — and the impact our choices have upon others. When we engage in reflection, we remember the harm that we have experienced, and we begin to see how we too, have caused harm. This is where a practice of non-judgment can prove to be a helpful ally.

In reflecting, we pause to see a space between who we wish to be in our hearts, and what our conditioning manifested. We see how we shared love, and also where we could have loved more.

There is a danger here of falling into the binary of 'good vs. bad' thinking — the value judgements taught to us by society from birth. But it is in spacious non-judgment, a gentle seeing-of-what-is without needing to condemn or praise it, that we truly find our growth and ourselves.

Self-Compassion and Shame

When we take the time to truly see our own actions and behavior over the past year, we will inevitably remember moments when our thoughts or actions were fear-based, and other moments when our thoughts and actions caused harm to others. When we see those moments, we may experience a wave of physical discomfort, and we may fall into our stories of self-judgement or shame.

Self-compassion is your like shame-busting superhero super-power.

Perhaps as part of your reflection process, try looking in the mirror and really seeing yourself. As you scan the different parts of your body, can you offer a word of compassion or gratitude to each part? Time has passed. Feelings have taken place. And through it all, your body has continued to live and renew and repair itself as best it could. It was always doing the best it could at the time.

So were you.

So is everyone.

Reappraisal

When we can understand our bodies, ourselves, and others in this way — as always doing the best we knew how at the time — we are practicing a form of reappraisal. In reappraisal, we assign new meaning to an experience or interaction that situates the experience or interaction inside of a greater (and less hurtful) context. We understand that harm was not intended. We begin to see how painful experiences may have also helped us to grow more centered, more compassionate, or more authentic to ourselves.

Practicing reappraisal is not the same as toxic positivity. To reappraise is not to deny, but to allow ourselves to honor the hurt AND to soften the judgement. In doing so, we can strengthen our relationship to our own internal expertise and begin to see ourselves inside of a greater whole.

Making Space for Your Aliveness

After all that we have been through in 2020, all that we lost and all that we learned, instead of setting resolutions for self-improvement in 2021, let us resolve to make space in our lives for the things that really matter, and the things that make us feel grateful to be alive.

What does it mean to you to create space for things that bring you joy? What feeds your heart? What activities bring you so into the present moment that you forget yourself?

These are just some of the questions we explore in the Self-Care Is For Everyone End-of-2020 free downloadable activity book. As you reflect, ask yourself the following: Where does my time go? When do I feel relaxed? Inspired? Constricted? What thoughts cause me to procrastinate? What do I resist? How do I avoid feeling pain? How do I cope? What activities make me feel most in the flow or present with my life? Where do I hurt? How do I perpetuate hurt? Where does my resilience come from? Where could I be kinder to myself or others?

As you reflect, also allow yourself to play. Perhaps you feel called to color in the pages, feeding your inner child through artistic expression. Perhaps you wish to turn on a favorite album as you sit down to reflect, or to dance out your feelings. If the impulse arises, don't hold back! Creative expression allows us to tap into parts of ourselves that may be less-constrained by conditioning than our words are. Enjoy exploring what arises.

Conclusion

To reflect, deeply, is to learn to become comfortable with discomfort. To allow yourself to get quiet, to fall apart, to grieve, and to listen. To move from a need to control to presence. This is work that runs counter to our modern culture, work of slowing down and stripping away instead of speeding up and accumulating. Instead of burying our pain in busyness, we lean into it. We see it. We honor it. We release the shame and the judgement. And in doing so, we transform.

This is the work of solidarity that begins within, bravery grown from fertile, vulnerable softness.

To reflect is a choice; you don't have to do this work.

But if you do, it might just change everything.