A year grounded in intention
Our 'Love at Christmas' blog in 2020 differs from this year's Love at Christmas blog. Our lives have changed; many plans came crashing down and did not go as we thought they would. We are sure this might also be the same for many of you, given the year we've had.
On the brighter side, we gained new relationships, got closer to the ones we have and ended some relationships that no longer positively contributed to our lives.
As the famous Christmas song goes, "so this is Christmas, and what have you done..." The question encourages us to reflect on what we have done this year, both positively and negatively. The last two years have taught us to be patient, kind and embrace the unknown.
To act and lead with care.
To be kind and thoughtful with the ones we love.
To value all the moments and memories we can create together.
This year we've worked our socks off, even got new jobs and moved home - who knew two island girls turned city slickers in London would appreciate the tranquillity of the English countrysides.
The last year has taught us that we needed to activate our 'NO' and put firm boundaries in place. At times, we felt guilty for the sense of rejection caused by our boundaries. Still, we allowed ourselves to get comfortable with the feeling of being uncomfortable as we discovered our strength.
Wow, and we thought 2020 was bad!
It's been an unimaginable yet insightful year for us, filled with teachable moments, incredible life lessons, moments of growth and, most importantly, unlearning some unhelpful habits we didn't even realise we'd picked up along the way. Such a scary yet exciting feeling of knowing we are only at the beginning of our self-discovery journey as individuals and as a couple.
So here we are again, standing at the precipice of another year. 2021 feeling more arduous with yet again more uncertainty for the year ahead. It's no wonder why so many of us welcome the invitation of the festive season—permitting ourselves to overspend with Christmas feeling more like a deadline than some downtime with the family and a short break from the hustle and bustle of life.
A time where we come together to overindulge in the giving and receiving of gifts, excessive consumption of food and alcoholic beverages, then comes the obligatory rounds of charades, not forgetting the board games and Christmas films. All while complaining about everyone leaving your home because hosting so many is just too much. Often followed by a loud whisper, 'when are these people going to leave?'.
Conveniently 10mins later, Uncle Leroy, Aunty Gertrude and their children leave, deciding it's time to go - do you think they heard me? Yes, they did, that's why they are leaving. Or even the famous, 'I can't wait to get home and away from all this family drama! Yes, the one annual event is oh so overwhelming for everyone. Yet we continue to contribute to the exhausting tradition year in, year out.
Same story, different year!
OK, so what now? Another year has gone by, the credit cards shot to pieces. Payday feels like it can't come soon enough. The anxiety and resentment sets in about how much we've spent. The self-berating starts. The sense of Shoulda Woulda Coulda swirling around our thought process with the novelty of 25th Dec long gone.
But, here's the gag looking after ourselves and the people around us has a more significant and more profound impact than a new shiny gift that feels satisfying in the short term. Still, eventually, it passes, and we find ourselves back in that place of longing for something else to fill the void of happiness and contentment.
So New year, who dis!?, possibly the same you in all the new gifts from Christmas feeling the same lack from the past year.
What can we do about this feeling and overcoming the desire to find contentment? Here are our top five tips to ditch the insatiable need for more and embrace a more intentional lifestyle for the year ahead:
Make a list and check it twice ♪
As a starting point, making a list of your goals for your life helps to visualise what it is you want and encourages us to make a plan. You could also team up with some of your friends and start an accountability group - sometimes, having support helps keep us focused and on track. Research indicates that you are more likely to achieve your goals and aspirations by simply writing them down and reviewing them regularly.
New Year Dreams ♪
Remember the most important rule of them all; some things don't always go to plan - being flexible about your goals and aspirations for the year is critical. Remember to assess and reassess your plans, identify where things are not working, hold yourself accountable, and know when enough is enough. Practising self-regulation and self-forgiveness is part of our emotional intelligence and growth. If things don't go as you planned precisely, that's OK. Accept the moment, allow it to move through you, then hit the reset button and create a new plan.
The mood is right; the spirits up ♪
We recently increased our activity by walking every day, setting challenges for ourselves that got us jogging then running. I 'Mon' am very slow and often try to keep up with Nai, and every day I get a little bit better and a little bit closer to her pace. But for me, it is not about speed but about practising the habit of being active. Exercising improves memory, reduces anxiety, improves sleep, and lifts our spirits. As little as ten dedicated minutes, a day of gentle activity can improve your overall mood, so keep it moving.
Don't be vain ♪
Not everything is about you. We all have painful experiences that we carry, and sometimes these feelings can be unknowingly triggered by others, events and situations. We live in such a 'me first' society. Historically, we have always been rewarded for being first, the most successful. What even is the meaning of success in 2022?
For 2022, let's reverse the empathy! Instead, think about what the other person might be experiencing, the challenges they have had to endure, and how much of their behaviour towards us is about us or something else.
In the same way, we would appreciate compassion from others - reverse empathy helps us reflect on events and situations where we might feel that we were on the receiving end of rejection or negativity.
This minimises the negative feedback loop of thinking grounded in false ideas we carry about ourselves and the people we encounter. So give yourself and the people around you some grace.
You can start speaking up ♪
The pressure to have your shit in order is something we all feel from time to time. Especially now that we think we have such up close and personal insight into everyone's life on social media. We all seem to have our shit together, don't we? (side-eye) Sadly, some of us also experience anxiety at the idea of sharing with a close friend or family that we aren't coping and need some help. That feeling of being judged or criticised is so overwhelming; it sometimes paralyses our ability to ask for help. The simple fact is, we all need support at one point or another.
Asking for help is the bravest thing we can do when we feel we can no longer cope or lack the resources we need to overcome the challenges we are facing or vent about how hard adulting feels. Therapeutic support can help bring clarity to life struggles and find our inner erotic voice. No, we are not talking about sex. Go see a therapist.
Our inner erotic voice copped from Audre Lorde's writings on the Power of the Erotic - our inner needs that are not governed by what others believe we should feel, do and think about our lives. So start speaking up about your needs. Drop the shame, lose the pain and ask for help and support when needed. Pouring into you is the most healing and loving thing you can do for yourself.
We know this is no news to you, but no one has their shit together. Being human is identifying and accepting our limitations and the perfectly imperfect parts of ourselves. We are all trying to do the best we can, with the available resources we have, the best way we know how!
We are all a WORK IN PROGRESS
We've learnt that time moves quickly, that life is both painful, joyous, and so fragile and precious. Yet, 2021 has taught us to be brave enough to try, patient enough to endure and courageous enough to keep going.
Don't underestimate your ability to cope, we are all capable of coping with more than we give ourselves credit for. Remain present in the here and now because sometimes we can be distracted by the insatiable feeling of lack.
Know when enough is truly enough.
We hope you found these tips helpful, and they inspire you to create a year grounded in intention, compassion and kindness for yourself and the people in your life.
With Love always
Mon & Nai