When life gives you 2020, you take time to reflect on what this year has truly brought and what lessons you have learned. Unexpected life challenges can be some of our greatest teachers as mental health practitioners. Even though we probably find ourselves sharing positive takeaways from 2020 with our clients, it’s important to also remind ourselves of what we have achieved. We leave behind an unprecedented year but take with us the following gifts that came despite the craziness.
Top Takeaways From 2020
Stay at home orders, mask-wearing, job changes, canceled plans, and social distancing. As hard as it was, we survived 100% of what we have already experienced. Our tolerance muscles have strengthened and will serve us as life will inevitably throw us more curveballs.
Adjusting to a new normal has not been easy – especially not for private practice – but it opened our eyes to what is most important. Sifting through our many roles and responsibilities of life, we decided what was of most value to keep and what we want to leave behind.
How did we find ways to work through grief, fear, and uncertainty? Identify if they were healthy or destructive ways to cope. What an opportunity to evaluate how well we deal with our difficult feelings and make any needed modifications.
Lack of control
The only thing we can control is our attitude and our reactions. Once we learn to accept that fact, we free ourselves to turn our time and energy into the things we actually can control.
Opportunities to practice tolerance were plentiful. From slow Wi-Fi to standing six feet apart waiting to enter Costco, we adapted to a slower-paced lifestyle with fewer expectations of ourselves and others.
Adaption of new ways to maneuver through this pandemic was a necessity to survive this year. Using the resources that were available to us, we became skilled in fine-tuning ways to work, play, and connect with those we love.
Newfound talents arose with unexpected time to spare. Did you learn how to bake asiago cheese bread, finish a Harry Potter puzzle, or knit a chunky blanket? Our creative juices were flowing rapidly while our lives were slowing.
Challenging times tend to bring out either the best or worst in folks. Political, social, racial, and financial inequalities were necessarily brought to the surface allowing space for us to evaluate our thoughts and actions as well as the thoughts and actions of those we choose to surround ourselves with.
Meeting our basic need for social support while we were social distancing was challenging. We embraced those we could be near and zoomed with those we could not. Now, more than ever, we know and feel the importance of human connection.
Life is short
We never know when our time, or the time of our loved ones, on this roller coaster of life will be up. Are you where you want to be, with who you want to be with, and doing what you want to do? Time to use the knowledge we have gained this year and live fully with appreciation, intentional action, and abundant love.
Other Takeaways from 2020
If you’re in need of more motivation during the pandemic, here are a few Practice of the Practice resources to remind you of all the takeaways from 2020:
Sue English, LCSW, CADC
Sue is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in trauma, self-defeating thoughts/behaviors, and mood disorders. Sue works in private practice in the Chicagoland area. She has extensive experience working with teens, adults, couples, and families through counseling, teaching, and in inpatient and outpatient mental health settings, including; psychiatric units, detox centers, and a residential treatment facility for women.
When not trying to save the world, she enjoys running and, spending time with her children, husband, and retired racing greyhounds.