January 3, 2023
The New Year is here and we don’t know about you, but we are surrounded by inspirational messages and opportunities to set new goals, intentions, and refocus our energy. Making the space to dream, plan, and focus our energy and attention can be a helpful tool to inspire us and encourage us so that we can elevate our lives and live from a place of intentionality. Realistically, it’s just not so easy to do. Along the way, there can be roadblocks that get in the way of us truly being able to thrive and flourish. Read more below about the top 3 blocks we see show up for women in our Center that are holding them back as well as simple strategies to overcome them.
1) Unhealthy Comparison
We’re all guilty of this one at some point–even if you’re an avid practicer of gratitude and contentment– In fact, social comparison theory, originally introduced by Leon Festinger in 1954 suggests that we all have an innate drive to evaluate ourselves by comparing ourselves to others in our social worlds. By comparing and analyzing our abilities and accomplishments, we form judgments about our abilities, and sense of self which can impact our confidence, self-esteem, and overall well-being. While there are different types of social comparison (e.g. Upward vs. downward comparison) and contexts (similar or dissimilar beliefs), It essentially describes how we compare ourselves to others in our social worlds.
In general, we do this with those that are similar to us and in areas that are relative to us. For example with a coworker in a similar position as you, yourself as a mother in comparison to other mothers, academic performance if you are a student, health, and wellness if you are focused on that dimension, etc. Essentially, asking ourselves, “how do I measure up?” At times, this may give us hope and motivate us to do our best and strive for a particular goal that aligns with our values and dreams. In other instances, it may prompt envy, and dissatisfaction, and discourage us from focusing on our own path and noticing our own steps toward growth on our life journeys. Our suggestion for this year:
Lean Into Your Own Path
Wherever you are focused on this new year–goals, intentions, awakened dreams, try listening, honoring, and celebrating your own path. How do we do that? Get back to the basics by noticing, validating, and affirming your efforts along the way. The beauty of reaching our goals is not just the goal itself but the process along the way. We believe that each of us has gifts and strengths that allow us to show up in the world and contribute to our families, communities, and society.
Even if we’re pursuing a similar goal as others or similar dreams, the way in which we do so is going to be unique to each of us. Every day, take time out to recognize what you are proud of yourself for that day (no matter the size). Getting up for the day if you struggle with depression, going outside your comfort zone if you struggle with anxiety, or simply taking one more step in the direction of cultivating healthier habits (more movement, drinking more water, etc.). Also, take note of how much time you spend on social media. Ask yourself: “Is this elevating me?” “Do I feel inspired or discouraged” after scrolling through my feed? Sit with those answers, and adjust your social media behaviors accordingly.
2) Negative Energy
Why are “positive vibes only” such a trend? Well, we all know that one person or group, tends to be negative–always complaining, critical, and, well…negative. That might even sound like you. In some cases, this can be unaddressed mental health disorders contributing to irritable or depressed mood, for which treatment and support are necessary. Other times, it can be a mindset of fatalism (the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable), or hopelessness (things never work out, there is no use, etc.). This energy, in excess, can feel draining mentally and have physical consequences. Whatever the source of the negative energy (internal or external), know that there are things you can do to shift your own energy.
Cultivate Positive Emotions
While it’s not always possible to “stay positive”, intentionally cultivating positive emotions such as gratitude, joy, contentment, hope, etc. can be powerful–impacting us on a neurological level increasing our memory, attention, and awareness) and a physical level (e.g. lower blood pressure, reduced risk for heart disease, longer life, etc.). What brings you joy? What are you most grateful for in your life? When do you feel most alive and energized? Is it spending time with your family? Creating art or music? Maybe giving back to your community or spending time outside in nature. We want to encourage you to take time this year to do more of these things AND do them more often.
Now, more than ever, our world is connected–online platforms and other technological advances have made this even more possible (dating, social sites, social events, etc..) Paradoxically, so many people are struggling with the epidemic of loneliness and disconnection. In fact, research from the Roots of Loneliness Project found that 52% of Americans report feeling lonely, while 47% report their relationships with others are not meaningful. Further, 71% of heavy social media users say that they experience feelings of loneliness. The negative health effects of loneliness have popularly been compared to smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Yikes. The good news? there are many ways to change this.
Our needs for social connections and interactions vary from person to person, however, paying attention to those needs gives us the first step toward connecting more with others. If you’d like to ease into it, start by calling a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while to catch up and make it a routine (Once a week? Once a month?). Joining an online community may be another avenue to build your community. Get outside your comfort zone and join a local sports team, social group, cause, or club that aligns with your values.
Explore new hobbies, interests, or activities. Reflect on when you have felt the most connected in your life, and ask yourself “what was I doing differently then”. Whether you are living in a familiar place or are a transplant to a new community, the possibilities for connection are present–it just may take a little effort and courage. Follow us on Eventbrite for events and opportunities to connect both in-person and online.
Wherever you find yourself as we start off the year, know and believe that you are able to thrive and live the life you so desire. You have the power–to choose. To challenge yourself. Step outside of your comfort zone. Because you’re worth all the rewards of doing so. May your 2023 be abundant.
*Please Note: The information provided on or through this website or blog is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. Engaging with this material does not constitute a client/therapist relationship*
Festinger, L. A, 1954, Theory of Social Comparision Processes, Human Relationships, Sage Publications