A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

How to follow your heart this New Year

It’s the beginning of a brand new year! I know it's not actually the first of January but the kids have gone back to school, so it feels like the new year starts this week.

How do you plan to spend this year? Have you made New Year’s resolutions? Not for me! Not this year.

I’ve come to realize that New Year’s resolutions tend to be goals that feel like punishment, rather than self-love. And they are things that we SHOULD do, like lose weight or exercise more. When we inevitably fail to meet those resolutions we start “should-ing all over ourselves,” as I explained in an earlier post about the scarab beetle. So this year I am trying something different. I’m going to harness the “power of intention.”
Honestly, I have not done a lot of research on this, and believe me there’s lots of material you can find on the internet. But I do trust the value in this because it was assigned homework in a group therapy program I attended in the outpatient psychiatry department. That three month program just ended in December so it’s fresh in my mind and I will share with you the intention statements that I wrote.

The idea is to look at different areas of your life and decide how important those things are, and then assess how satisfied you are with each domain. This material is taken directly from a book called The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety (above). I have typed up the material into a document and added it as images that you can read or, if you are interested, you can print them for your own use. New Year’s seems the appropriate time to assess where you are and where you want to go.

As you can see, the ten domains are work/career, intimate relationships, parenting, education/learning, friends/social life, health/physical self-care, family of origin, spirituality, community life/environment/nature, and recreation/leisure.

I am not working full-time at the moment and rated work/career as not very important to me at the moment. The work/career area can, of course, refer to work within the home or the community and does not have to be paid employment. I teach part-time and do a lot of writing, but otherwise my "work" at the moment is working on my health, personal growth, and relationships.

In looking through the other domains I realized that my marriage is very important to me and I rated it 2 on the scale. However, I surprised myself when I realized that I am actually very satisfied with my relationship. That may not be a surprise to my readers, given the number of posts I have written about my relationship and the work that we have done as a couple. If you want to read those you can go to the bottom of the web version of the blog and use the search for stories about my Always and Forever marriage bracelet.

I also ranked both parenting and my family relationships as very important but realized I was only moderately satisfied with both. My parents have both passed so my closest family relationship is my only brother. These areas have certainly improved as my mood has improved, but there is still work to do.

I have, albeit slowly, come to recognize the importance of my physical self-care, not just for my health but also for regulating my emotions, which, in turn, impacts the relationships in my life. I am not at all satisfied with my current level of physical fitness so that will be a big emphasis in the coming year. Unfortunately community involvement and social friendships have been impacted by my depression, as well as my physical health, so those are not things I can really put too much focus on at the moment. And I’m very unclear as to how I feel about my spirituality so I haven’t addressed that domain in my intention statements.

For each domain I have written my intentions on index cards and I read through them every day (I have typed them below). You will notice that I have written them in the present tense, because that feels more powerful. Even though I'm still working on some areas they still are my intentions. This was my first go at this assignment; I hope you'll give it a try. My favourite part of the instructions was "listen to and follow your heart," so I've added the heart of gold charm to my "Beat the Winter Blues" bracelet, to keep me on track - and remind me of what's in my heart - in the coming months of winter.

So when I'm angry at my husband, or frustrated with my kids, and feel like yelling... when things seem too hard or I want to throw my hands up in frustration... when I'm tempted to turn down an invitation or stay indoors... when I want to skip a workout or a walk... when I have an urge to numb my feelings by binging on food or Netflix... I will remember to follow my heart and live a life worth living.

The Power of Intention: How I want to live my life; a life worth living

An intention is a statement that reflects the direction you want to move in for the foreseeable future. It’s simply a statement of how you’d like to live your life. It should capture what’s most important to you, in that area. They are not goals with an endpoint. They should speak to how you want to live every day of your life. They should genuinely reflect your wishes. Listen to and follow your heart.
Intimate relationship
Mike and I have a relationship where we love and respect each other, and we support each other in our personal growth and spiritual journey. We play and have fun and look forward to spending the rest of our days together.
I have a family and a home that is a safe place for my children to land, where they feel accepted and loved unconditionally, as well as receive support, direction and guidance on their own journey of life.
Education/learning (personal growth)
I am learning about depression, anxiety, and eating disorder recovery by participating in groups, attending workshops/courses, and reading and researching (including prevention from a parent’s point of view). I am writing, whether it be blog posts, newspaper or magazine articles, or a book. I am writing about my journey of recovery from depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder, educating others, and (hopefully) giving them information and inspiration.
Health/physical self-care
I take care of my health because I want to live a long and active life, set a good example for my children, and be well enough to do the things I want to do. I enjoy good food and I enjoy physical activity for fun and fulfillment as well as fitness.
Family of origin
I have a relationship with my brother where we love and respect each other and give each other emotional support and guidance. My children have good relationships with their aunts and uncles, and I have the same with my nieces and nephews.
I enjoy my hobby of designing bracelets and collecting charms, and writing about them. I pursue my passion for photography. I enjoy spending time with Mike and the kids, as teenagers and as they grow into young adults, doing family things like travelling, going to movies and museums, playing games, engaging in physical activity, and pursuing our shared interests in theatre, art, books and sports.
Although the heart of gold charm is a little weather-beaten, it will remind me to follow my heart.

 Are you living a life worth living? What does your heart tell you to do in this new year?

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