As we head into the new year, we may have thoughts that are preventing us from moving into 2018 with an open mind. These thoughts could be telling us that we aren’t good enough. These thoughts could be telling us we need to hold onto the guilt from our decisions in 2017. These thoughts can make it extremely difficult to transition into the new year.

To be in the present moment, we need to learn to let go of our past decisions. There is a lot of truth to learning to let it go. In her song, “Learn to Let It Go,” pop singer, Kesha, describes a boogieman putting crazy thoughts in your head to put you down. People who struggle with anxiety face these thoughts daily. Everyone makes poor decisions at times, but you need to be kind to yourself. Instead of feeling guilty about your past decisions, look at them as a learning experience to take forward into the new year. Everyone has a past that made them who they are today.

That being said, it can be very easy to fall into being stuck in the past instead being present in the here and now. How can I be present in the moment?

  • Recognize your current feelings in the present moment. After you recognize these feelings, be accepting of these feelings. Do not judge your current feelings, but use them as an examination of your thought process.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises. Try to hold your breath in for 6 seconds while thinking of the future, and then exhale 4 seconds while thinking of the past. Doing this exercise connects both mind and body, which will allow your body to truly be present in moment.

Another way to be present in the moment is allowing yourself to forgive yourself from your past decisions. How can I forgive myself?

  • Identify times you talked to yourself negatively regarding a past decision. Then, give yourself two compliments to replace the negative thought.
    Acknowledge your strengths. Find a concrete fact of something you are doing currently that shows you truly are a good person.
  • Own your past faults, and then makes amends with yourself. You could simply write down on a piece of paper, “I am sorry” and then on the next line write, “It is okay, I forgive you,” then tear up the paper and throw it in the trashcan. Find what works for you.

Learning to let it go doesn’t mean something you did didn’t happen. It means you shouldn’t continue to repeat it over and over in your mind. It has already happened, and there is nothing you can do to change the past. Instead of thinking of your past as a dreaded memory, try to think of it as a source of wisdom.

With your newfound source of wisdom, you now can think about how to do something differently next time. Attempting to change your perception can also allow you to move forward in your future. You cannot control the past, but you do have control over the present moment.

However, this can be easier said than done. Here is a list of ways to try to jump into 2018 in the present moment:

  • Meditate
  • Use essential oils
  • Exercise
  • Journal
  • Go for a walk outside
  • Meet a friend for coffee
  • Pet an animal
  • Try something new
  • Do something for you (get your nails done, get a massage, buy a special treat, etc.)

Embrace the new year in the present moment! Struggling to move into the new year? Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our skilled therapists.

Mallory Welsh, LCSW, MSW