Sylvia Sandler, M.A., MFTi
Dear LA-CAMFT friends and colleagues:
Many view the New Year as an opportunity to reset and to look toward the future with hope. The New Year is an optimal time to plan and pursue unattained goals. Others use the beginning of the New Year as a way to recalculate life’s compass.
When I think of a New Year’s Resolution, I think of being able to maintain some level of control, even when the world around me is chaotic. A resolution is about the empowerment of the self. It is about taking control of our personal narratives and shifting away from simply hoping things will get better or leaving it to fate. We are taking stock of the things that are within our power to change and identifying those areas which we can improve upon, thereby, challenging ourselves like never before.
At the same time, resolution also implies that there is a struggle, and that we are being beckoned to take action, no matter the end result. This call to action is not done once and then forgotten or shelved. Resolutions are recursive in nature. The prefix, re, which means again, tells us that. You try to solve things, and then you reflect. You build upon what worked and channel your efforts where it didn’t work, and then you do it again informed by this new knowledge. Such reflection is the key to personal growth, which is part of the process of making resolutions. We may not get what we want on our first try. What matters most is our hopeful response in lieu of complacency.
Viewing the New Year through a lens of hope is paramount. Hope helps us move away from victimization towards self-empowerment. The ability to start fresh and contemplate what can be is the very thing to help us deal with our fears and become unstuck. As therapists, it is our job to reality test clients’ narratives, which might include helping clients reflect on their own assumptions and actions. This work is not always easy, but it helps to fortify us. While every single one of us is defined by our strengths and hardships, what is most challenging, as well as most rewarding, is the way we respond to and navigate our way through those challenges.
Teaching clients that “life is a marathon not a sprint” is very useful in helping them to develop hope. Hope develops from living a life that is made up of triumphs and failures. Hope gives us the opportunity to integrate our life experience, good and bad, and believe that things can turn around, improve and change. Nothing is constant and to all there is a beginning, a middle and an end. I wish you all the beginnings of a healthy prosperous New Year, a middle that is peaceful yet satisfying, and an end that you will look back upon with pride for all the efforts you have made in helping yourself and those around you forge ahead on your hopeful journey.
With much gratitude,
Sylvia J. Sandler, M.A., is the current editor of Voices for LA-CAMFT, and holds a subsequent registration as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, IMF#90381. Sylvia is bi-lingual and fully proficient in reading and writing in the Spanish language. Sylvia is gaining hours for licensing at The Ness Counseling Center and previously worked at Chabad Treatment Center Outpatient. You may reach her by email at email@example.com.