We all hope that when the clock strikes 12 midnight on New Year’s Eve that all of our troubles will be gone. If a perfect world existed this would be the perfect formula for change. However, we have to be realistic. I talked to Tamika Morris, an interactive and integrative therapist and an expert in Transition Issues & Life Changes, about hassle-free dealing with massive changes, the ‘New Year New Me’ concept and having a positive attitude during a transition.
Everyone hoped that at midnight on 1st January 2021 everything would change – but things are pretty much the same as in 2020. Can you recommend how to focus positively on this year?
I think each year we have the high hopes that when the clock strikes 12 midnight that all of our troubles will be gone. If a perfect world existed this would be the perfect formula for change. Sometimes I wish I could have a piece of the perfect world also, however we have to be realistic.
Here are a couple of ways I am helping my patients focus positively on this year.
First, I am helping them acknowledge who they are and where they are in life. It is important to be present in life. What I mean by this is to focus on the things that are important to you and the things you have the power to change. This can be challenging at times because it nudges you to have honest moments with yourself and your situation(s).
Second, It is important to acknowledge when, where and how you need help. This could be a number of things such as; I need someone to do a grocery run for me or knowing when you need a break. Third, It is helpful to think of the people and/or things that bring you some kind of comfort or happiness.
Something I find helpful is expressing gratitude every day. I understand it can be tough feeling grateful in a pandemic because we are globally experiencing loss.
What has helped me and the population I service is to acknowledge how you feel and later identify the silver lining.
For example, this year has a tough start due to the pandemic and I don’t like staying home all the time, however I am so grateful that I am working and that I get to spend quality time with my family. This can also be thanking a coworker for helping with a project, a loved one for washing the dishes, or your dog for the unconditional love they give you.
Finally, changing how you look at things can help someone to have a positive outlook. For example; instead of saying “ I have to” cook or go to work, replace it with “ I get to” make something delicious or work.
You are an expert in Transition Issues & Life Changes. Do you think all changes can be viewed from a positive perspective?
No, I don’t think all changes can be viewed from a positive perspective when we first experience them, however I believe things can be worked through in a positive light.
Do you have some recommendations on how to accept changes easily and hassle-free?
I have found that writing down the things you’re grateful for can improve your optimism and sense of well-being. You can do this by writing in a gratitude journal every day, or jotting down a list of things you’re grateful for on days you’re having a hard time.
Open yourself to humor. have found that laughter lowers stress, anxiety, and depression. It also improves coping skills, mood, and self-esteem. Be open to humor in all situations, especially the difficult ones, and give yourself permission to laugh. It instantly lightens the mood and makes things seem a little less difficult. Even if you’re not feeling it; pretending or forcing yourself to laugh can improve your mood and lower stress.
Can you share some tips on how to deal with these massive pandemic-related changes in our lives?
- Spend time with positive people
Negativity and positivity have been shown to be contagious. Consider the people with whom you’re spending time. Have you noticed how someone in a bad mood can bring down almost everyone in a room? A positive person has the opposite effect on others.
Being around positive people has been shown to improve self-esteem and increase your chances of reaching goals. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up and help you see the bright side. I understand a lot of people are isolated right now, you may have to be creative with how you connect with people.
- Practice positive self-talk
We tend to be the hardest on ourselves and be our own worst critic. Over time, this can cause you to form a negative opinion of yourself that can be hard to shake. To stop this, you’ll need to be mindful of the voice in your head and respond with positive messages, also known as positive self-talk.
Research shows that even a small shift in the way you talk to yourself can influence your ability to regulate your feelings, thoughts, and behavior under stress.
Here’s an example of positive self-talk: Instead of thinking “I really messed that up,” try “I’ll try it again a different way.”
- Identify your areas of negativity
Take a good look at the different areas of your life and identify the ones in which you tend to be the most negative. Not sure? Ask a trusted friend or colleague. Chances are, they’ll be able to offer some insight. A co-worker might notice that you tend to be negative at work. Your spouse may notice that you get especially negative while driving. Tackle one area at a time.
- Start every day on a positive note
Create a ritual in which you start off each day with something uplifting and positive. Here are a few ideas:
Tell yourself that it’s going to be a great day or any other positive affirmation. Listen to a happy and positive song or playlist. Share some positivity by giving a compliment or doing something nice for someone.
What is your take on the “New Year, New Me” concept? Do you think it is obligatory every year?
I think The “New Year, New Me” concept is something people participate in as another way to state their New Year’s resolutions. I do not think it is obligatory, I just think it is something nice to say because it gives people hope.
Thoughts and behavior are the key. If you could, imagine change looking like this; Think about what feeling compels the behavior. What motivated that action? What are you getting out of doing this? Really put some thought into that.
Socially, people have made New Year’s a day to reflect, but the downfall is people don’t often make their goals realistic or put enough effort into what they want to work on.
Think deeper, more internal problems like how you treat others or react to things will take a LOT more work than just saying you can do it.
Making sure you understand why that’s a vulnerability to you and why your feelings were hurt and why you got defensive. That’s important in terms of personal growth and evolution.
I recommend leaning on friends, family or a counselor to unpack things.
Oftentimes having someone to hold you responsible helps and remember that it’s okay to stumble! We are all human.
The important thing is to own it, say sorry and to try again.
Setting realistic short-term goals helps and reward yourself when you achieve them. Above all else, don’t be so hard on yourself.
Giving yourself that sort of forgiveness and extending yourself grace will keep you motivated and keep you from “throwing out the baby with the bath-water.”
It’s a daily commitment to make the day different than yesterday.
Do you have a model on how to make a smooth transition from Old Me to New Me?
Yes it’s simple, I say I am capable, I am valuable and I am deserving of becoming who I desire in others.
This is how I apply my goal I tell myself, this time next year I won’t experience (fill in the blank) again and I put a plan into action to improve that area or experience to the best of my ability which will reflect in a healthy result.
This is my approach because nothing works unless you do.
Do you think the “New Me” concept relates only to individuals, or can it be related to families and couples as well?
No, I think it relates to everyone. This is all inclusive. As individuals we have desires and that applies to all areas of our lives. For example; we have significant others, families, friends, work and ourselves. So in order for change to happen it must be applied to one area of your life and like a domino effect, it will unfold in other areas of your life.
In your opinion, do you think it is still possible for a “New Me” this year?
Yes I think it is possible. This is only the second month of the year so we still have 10 months for change to happen. It all depends on the person and the work they are willing to put into the change they expect to see and experience.
Since the pandemic, how has the therapist arena changed?
Therapy has significantly changed in the pandemic because we have been allowed to integrate technology into therapy. Before the pandemic there were therapists providing virtual services, however it is such a new concept to therapy that most insurance companies were not on board with it and most agencies were not either.
Since the pandemic it has dissolved the traditional brick and mortar form of therapy and opened this field up to erasing preset rigid boundaries. Although these boundaries are valid, we must follow the trend. In today’s time technology is the trend.
Therapy has become more flexible with technology and location. The pandemic has allowed me to build a virtual practice and work from home which are two of my long term goals.
I set these goals in graduate school which my professors told me it would never happen, I’m a dreamer. Fast forward to a decade and a pandemic later, my goals have been reached.
How can our readers contact you and follow on social media?
You can find me on Instagram: @morristherapy and my website: morristherapyandconsultingllc.com and check out my blogs. Blogs posts coming soon.