Moving Forward

By Kathryn Gates, LMFT Gates Therapy

After what seems like a year of continuous negativity, how should we approach the new year with all of the weight that 2020 has put on us?

2020 has put a lot on us. From many different directions. Some of us may have even discovered new lows. As with any other knockdown, what matters is getting back up. And it helps to have assistance in getting back up. Connection is and has been more important than ever through a time of deep division like we've had- racially and politically, not to mention the physical separations recommended in order to keep from spreading sickness. We must continue to find ways of reaching out and of accepting care- whether it is via text, zoom, or an old-fashioned phone call. We can look at 1/1/21 as a fresh start, and that feels appropriate for the New Year. And we can also look at 2/1/21 as a fresh start. And at 2/12/21 as a fresh start. We can have a fresh start anytime we decide to-it just takes a shift in perspective. You always have the opportunity to make a shift in how you view life.

What are some strategies for processing the challenges that we have faced in 2020?

The good old American value of working hard and pushing through serves us well, especially when challenges arise. Some of us have had little choice but to press on and push through the difficulties of this past year. And, if we are willing to make time to sit and process the challenges, we may discover things that can help us move forward and even become stronger.
With a trusted friend or family member, a journal, or in prayer, explore the following questions:
    1. What has been the most difficult aspect of what has happened in the past 9-12 months? For me? For my family? For my community?
    2. What helped me/us get to where we are today? Who provided support? What personal resources or traits in myself became more visible?
    3. What "silver linings" came of this past year? What aspects of the "new normal" were beneficial or provided something I/we may have needed before and weren't getting?

If someone feels alone or hopeless as they enter the new year, what can they do to get help?

Now is the best time in recent history to reach out for therapeutic support! Because so much is online nowadays, you have access to counselors, therapists, and coaches across the nation that you didn't have access to before! (one "silver lining," as referenced above!) Counselors-in-training need experience helping clients, and are available to provide counseling at a very low fee. Cost need not be a barrier for you to seek support in managing hopelessness. Thousands of graduate students in psychology and counseling programs across the state are eager to work with clients at very low fees, sometimes even free of charge. For clients who feel alone, is one resource for connecting with a therapist who can assist in managing feelings of isolation and hopelessness as well as helping to find ways to make connections and develop meaningful relationships.

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