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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mental Resolutions for 2016

I don't know about you guys, but I feel like there's nothing more pointless than making resolutions about something you're going to do. I'm going to work out every day! I'm going to only eat sugar on Sundays! I'm only going to watch one hour of television a day! Yeah right like we'll maintain those habits all year. They look small, but actually involve MAJOR lifestyle changes, so you know, just forget it, I say.

I'm not against resolutions though. I've just changed the way I approach them. MENTAL resolutions are my thing for 2016 and beyond, and here are the four big ones I want to work on this year:

#1) Expect Nothing

I'm sort of cheating, since I also had this resolution last year, but it's a great one, and it's not one that you can ever really be done with. Our culture is outcome oriented, and for good reason. Without that, who would ever work hard at their job or at school? Who would ever maintain their bodies, their homes, their cars? But there's a flip side to that. I'll expect something bad to happen in a particular situation, so I won't do it at all. Or I'll expect something good to happen, and when it doesn't, I'm really disappointed. In certain situations, you have to remind yourself to expect nothing-- just have the experience. This one is so hard. It's a practice. Actually, all of these are. Hence, resolutions.

#2) Get Over Myself

I feel like this one covers so much ground that I can best explain it with a story. When I was in fourth grade, my friend and I played with our classroom chess set as if the pieces were dolls. They were rich, waring families on a checkered island. It was so fun. Anyway, during free time, our teacher let us play in the hall. I knew that the fifth graders were going to leave for recess and they'd walk past us. They'd probably wonder what we were doing and laugh or make fun of us.

So, I developed an ingenious idea of how to stay in control of the situation. I said things like, "We know we look stupid, keep walking," and, "We know this is weird. We know we're lame," literally the entire time the fifth graders made their way outside. As if they cared more than anything about how I looked. As if I needed to apologize for being a nine-year-old using my imagination. As if I were were going to be attacked by them and needed to attack myself first to avoid social humiliation. And yes, we did get a few weird looks, but none of those kids mattered. I wasn't friends with the fifth graders. I never talked to them. And maybe the looks were actually caused by my self-deprecated ramblings. Either way, who cared what they thought?

So anyway, as an adult, I want to discontinue any and all forms of everything I was doing to "protect" myself in the hallway of Dimondale Elementary that day. Make sense?

#3) Find Balance Between Being Informed & Losing My Mind

I've gotten a lot better at guarding my brain over the years. I used to watch a ton of Cold Case Files and Datelines and click on every disturbing news story that entered my feed. And then one day, I realized that I was convinced the world was a terrible place, that all people were evil, and that terrible things were going to happen to me at any moment, even though nothing that bad had happened to me my entire life. And now today, with terrorism and random violence touching the previously safe parts of our world, it's easier than ever to go insane.

So when it comes to my own state of mind, my own daily happiness, I need to remember that whatever beast I feed is the beast that grows. I don't want to be ignorant and uninformed, but I don't want to be scared of the world either. Taking pause before I watch or read something to really ask myself if it's a good idea is a start. Surrounding myself with positive news, art, and comedy will help as well. The truth is that most people are good and that although tragedies do happen in the world every day, tragedies don't happen in most people's individual lives every day. It's not all bad.

#4) Forgive Myself for Disappointing Younger Versions of Myself

I think when most people think about where they previously thought they'd be at this point in their lives, they shudder a little. My eyes have actually sprung open, almost in a panic, thinking about this as I try to fall asleep. My life isn't bad at all, I'm just not where I wish I was. What actually feels worse though is that I'm not where fifteen-year-old Brigette wanted me to be. I'm not where twenty-year-old Brigette wanted me to be. I need to try to let go of this. No one can go back in time and just be different. No one can just know things about life before they have experiences that help them know it. Regret is almost like magical thinking, like if we dwell long enough, time travel will be possible. It's not. But that's okay, because the thing is, our younger selves aren't even here, and you can't actually disappoint someone who doesn't exist. Besides, their understanding of adulthood and reality was not accurate. Growth is neither simple nor linear, and hey, we're not dead yet.

In case you can't read this, it predicts that at 30, I'd be a housewife with either a "little" or a "white" picket fence.

For some people, maybe the mental resolution thing is harder, but checking in with my thought patterns is a lot easier than getting on a treadmill, and I think ultimately, more helpful. Will I be peaceful and zen like as I weigh in at 700 pounds next year? Hmm, I don't know. We'll see.

So what about you? What are some mental resolutions that you hope to carry with you into the new year and beyond? I'd love to hear what everyone has to say, so please share!

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