The beginning of a new year is a great time to reflect! It’s an opportunity to reflect on the year that has past and to make plans for the new year to come. During this journal prompt we will do both of these things! This is going to be a great year!!
First we will reflect on our experiences in 2022. Reflection is a time to remember, ponder, and evaluate our experiences. Not all the things that we experienced over the last year were easy or enjoyable. There may have been more lessons or hard times over the last year then moments of laughter and joy. The purpose of this prompt isn’t to judge your experiences, but to simply reflect on how these experiences can help us create the best year in 2023. Consider these questions to help reflect on 2022:
What brought you the most joy in 2022?
What are three lessons from 2022 that you want to bring into the new year?
What goals did you work on during 2022?
Think back to how 2022 started for you and where you were in life…where are you in life now in comparison?
Now that we have reflected on 2022, let’s look ahead to our plans, goals, and hopes for 2023.
What are your top 3 goals that you want to work on in 2023?
What habits are you hoping to break or begin in 2023?
What 2 things are you looking forward to most this year?
Where do you want to be in life a year from now? What action steps can you take this year to accomplish this?
I hope you enjoyed this time of reflection! This is going to be a great year! We got this!
The quality and content of our thoughts impacts us on many levels. The way we think has an impact on our mental, emotional, and physical health. It can be easy to develop habits of negative thinking and self-talk. Like any habit we can change how we think and develop new thought patterns. Take a minute to reflect on these questions:
Do your thought patterns tend to be more positive or negative?
When thinking negatively how does it impact your day? How does it impact your actions and reactions?
Think of three things you are grateful for. How does it make you feel to practice gratitude? How does it change your perspective in this moment?
Positive thoughts and thoughts of gratitude can have many benefits to us. According the the Mayo Clinic these are just some of the benefits positive thoughts can have (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2022):
Longer life span
Lower rates of depression
Decreased stress, distress, and pain
Better overall well-being and quality of life
Better coping skills and increased resilience
Paying Attention To Your Thoughts
It takes practice to pay attention to and change our thought patterns. Some of the ways we think are so ingrained in us that they come to mind subconsciously. These are called automatic thoughts and for a lot of us they tend to be negative (Hoshaw, 2020). The first step to changing these thoughts is to notice them. There are a couple of ways to do this including:
Write down all your thoughts in a journal throughout the day.
Simply pause and paying attention to your thoughts throughout the day.
Once you notice your thoughts you can then make efforts to change how you think.
Reframing Thoughts With Gratitude
You can change your thoughts by intentionally correcting negative thought patterns with positive thoughts. One way to do this is to reframe our thoughts with gratitude. Replacing our negative thoughts with grateful thoughts allows us to be present in the good things around us.
In the image below is an example of how you can do this.
This takes practice! You can practice by journaling your negative thought patterns and then writing a replacement thought of gratitude. Even simply confronting negative thoughts in our mind with grateful thoughts can make a huge impact to our thought life.
The more attention we put into having thoughts of gratitude, the easier it becomes to think grateful or positive thoughts naturally. To practice this now you can write out in your journal five negative thoughts you’ve had today and five reframed thoughts of gratitude.
Have you ever gotten stuck in thinking about how things “should” be? Or feeling inferior because of all the things you “should” be doing?
Being stuck on all the “shoulds” can fill us with feelings of guilt, disappointment, and self-loathing.
What if we left behind the “shoulds”? What if we just embraced who we are and the life we are living? In reality the only thing “should” ever did was stress us out! It’s like a visitor that over stayed it’s welcome and complained the whole time.
Let’s accept that “should” never cared about all the great things we were already doing. I’m letting “should” go. Instead I’m accepting myself and allowing myself to feel joy in the present. Will you join me?
When we think about being healthy we often have a hyper focus on physical health. Physical health is important but there are so many sides to who we are as people. Today is all about reflecting on what it means to be holistically healthy.
I made this graphic to show all the different sides of health! It is empowering to see all the ways we can be taking care of ourselves!
What do these areas of health mean to you?
Mental Health: focused on the health of our thought process, story, the way we see others and ourselves, and personality traits.
Emotional Health: processing feelings and focused on the emotions we experience. This can also include our ability to emotionally connect with others and to the work we do.
Spiritual Health: our connection to something greater then ourselves. Can be connected to our sense of purpose.
Sexual Health: our expression and fulfillment of our sexual needs.
Physical Health: involves taking care of our physical body. This can involve nutrition, exercise, and sleep.
Social Health: the health of connections we have with other people in our lives. This can also include healthy boundaries.
Intellectual Health: this type of health is how we challenge our mind and memory. It can involve learning new things or practicing mental stimulation games.
Which of these areas of health are most important to you?
Think about a time when someone said something kind or affirming to you. Or a time when you received a compliment that meant a lot to you.
How did you feel in these circumstances?
How did it impact your day or week?
Did you do anything differently after that experience?
Positive words can have a big impact, but unfortunately negative words can often weigh on us and impact us a lot more. I’ve heard people say it takes ten positive words to make up for one negative.
Take a moment to consider this concept in regards to your thought life. How often do you think negative words about yourself in comparison to positive words?
Negative thoughts or self-talk can be a barrier to meeting our goals, building resilience, thriving, and feeling mentally healthy. One of the ways we can work to change patterns of negative thoughts is by practicing affirmations. This isn’t a magic fix, but when we stick with it can make a big difference.
Practicing affirmations can also be a great way to build resilience! Capturing our thoughts and focusing them in a positive direction helps us to regulate internal stress and feel the effects of relaxation and joy. What is an area that you find yourself thinking negatively about? How can you transform that thought into an affirmation? An example might be if you think negatively about body and your looks. Then you might practice an affirmation like this:
My body is able, strong, and resilient. My body is beautiful and worthy of being taken care of. My body is unique and special. My body was created for a purpose and will accomplish all that it is meant to.
What a difference it would make if we transformed all of our negative thoughts into empowering ones!!
There are a lot of things we don’t have control over in our life. But something we do have control over is our own thoughts, words, and actions. Today I wanted to focus on the impact of our thoughts!
There are two main ways to build resilience, which are sensation-based and thought-based. When working on building resilience or practicing resilience we can use strategies to manage stress, increase calmness, and build our capacity for handling stress by refocusing our thoughts. I was previously trained as a sensation-based resilience educator specifically for Social Resilience Model. Because of that I often share about sensation-based ways to build resilience. But there is so much opportunity for us to increase our well-being and resilience by incorporating these thought-based strategies as well! No matter how you chose to build resilience, the important part is incorporating strategies and ideas in our daily lives to thrive and live fulfilling lives. We will dive into a lot of thought-based strategies for building resilience, but for today I just want to list a few ways that we can do this and offer an opportunity for us to reflect on what methods could work best for us in our individual lives.
Thought-Based Resilience Strategies
Distraction or shifting to another thought to avoid spiraling
Challenging our thought process
Changing the narrative
There are many other ways to build resilience through thought-based strategies, but here are just some to think about. Below are some questions to reflect!
Which of these strategies works for you when managing stress?
Would you consider trying any of these when feeling overwhelmed by stress?
Has practicing any of these regularly helped you cope with life better on a day-to-day basis?
I have found that paying attention to my thoughts is very important to my wellbeing! When I let my thoughts go unchecked I start to be in negative thought patterns, vicious cycles of disappointment thinking of all the things that I “should” do and assuming what others are thinking. None of these patterns are helpful and it takes being intentional to notice these thoughts in yourself to create change. Paying attention to our thoughts is essential to our mental and emotional health.
Common Thought Distortions
One of the books about resilience that I have enjoyed is by Dr. Glenn R. Schiraldi, called The Resilience Workbook. This book has a lot of helpful information and exercises for building resilience and overcoming past stress and trauma. Below is a list from Dr. Schiraldi of common thought distortions:
Flaw Fixation: getting stuck on all the things that we consider to be wrong, undesirable, or negative.
Dismissing the Positive: choosing to not notice, accept, or believe the positive in a situation or about yourself.
Assuming: this could look like thinking that you know what someone else is thinking without them expressing themselves or predicting what you think will happen as fact.
Labeling: when we reduce ourselves, others, or a situation down to one characteristic.
Overgeneralizing: thinking that a certain type of situation always or never happens.
All-or-None Thinking: I find when I am engaging in this kind of thinking I am wanting to either have everything exactly as I want it and am all in or I totally walk away and don’t invest any of myself. In this thought process solutions in the middle are not considered.
Comparison: Comparing someone’s situation to your own, but often it is comparing someone else’s best to your worst.
Catastrophizing: thinking the worst is going to happen.
Emotional Logic: making decisions based solely on emotion and not considering the facts of the situation.
Should Statements: when you have rules or beliefs of what life has to be like.
Personalizing: believing something is about you personally, without considering other possibilities or circumstances.
Blaming: not taking responsibility for our own thoughts, words, and actions.
Looking at a list like this can be overwhelming because chances are we might be struggling with several of these thought processes. Next, we will look how to focus in on one of these thought processes and start the process of making change!
Changing Thought Cycles
Sometimes it can feel very difficult to change our thought processes especially when we have been thinking a certain way for a long time. When I was first trying to change my thought processes I first reflected on which one caused the most difficulties in my life. Or consider which one is holding you back the most from goals you are working on. Making changes is not only about what we won’t do, but figuring out what we will do instead. For example one of my struggles is assuming what other people are thinking. So when I catch myself doing this I remind myself that I am not a mind reader or that I can only control my thoughts, words and actions. Once I’ve reminded myself of this I take a step back and look at the facts. What did the person actually say? What circumstances were happening that led me to assume their thoughts? And what do I actually know about the situation based on these things? Here are these steps laid out below:
What thought distortion do you want to work on?
How can you replace this thought process with a new health thought process?
Are there circumstances that trigger this thought distortion?
The awesome thing about our brain is that the more we practice a skill and put our attention to it, the more our brain adapts to support the new thought process or habit. It might take time, but you have the power to change your brain and to change your thoughts! Take time to reflect on this! Leave a comment below of what action step you are going to take!
Schiraldi, G. (2017). The Resilience Workbook. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.