NEW YEAR NEW ME CAN BE HARD WHEN THE TRAUMA IS ONGOING
“New Year, New Me” can be inspirational and transformational to some, helping set yourself in motion for the new year. This is not the case for everyone. Speaking from experience, this slogan has the potential to be emotionally harmful. Although it is well-intentioned, it may not always take into account the individual circumstances which leave little room for a complete reinvention —the best they can do is get through the days intact.
Setting up checking points and dates for the steps necessary to reach a goal is essential, but we have to place caution with this mindset. It’s beneficial to have a date in mind for when you want to finish writing that novel that has been in the works for years. The danger lies in emotional growth and healing, which can not be tied to a calendar. Healing is not linear. As Kristen Fuller said in her article, 5 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Can Be Detrimental To Your Mental Health,
“In reality, it is quite unrealistic to think that you can drop a bad habit that you have spent nearly a lifetime establishing.”
The fact is that when one is in a traumatic situation, especially over a long period of time, we tend to build habits out of survival – harmful or beneficial for ourselves.
Some of these habits might include substance abuse or developing coping mechanisms that cause us or others around us harm, such as isolating ourselves. These kinds of habits can not be tackled with over-generalized slogans like “New Year, New Me.” They require time, patience, and often professional help that you might not have access to for various reasons. This time of year can bring up traumas you thought you’ve healed, and exasperate wounds not healed yet.
So maybe “New Year, New Me” is not an option for all, and that’s okay. A productive goal is one you work toward, not something you wish for. You may be wishing that you could immediately repair or forget trauma. All of these wishes and responses are understandable, but it’s important to be able to distinguish a wish from a goal. A goal can be to find a therapist. It can even be smaller than that, it can simply be to admit that there’s even an issue at all. Sometimes coming to terms with our situation can be the hardest thing to do. Perhaps this year, you focus on acceptance; but not tied to a date or the 31st of the year, but rather grounded in your desire to slowly improve yourself and your situation, if that’s even an option.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, and pressured by one of society’s favorite slogans, so this is a reminder that it’s okay to be taking baby steps. It’s okay to still be in the situation you were in before the ball dropped. Change, growth, healing, all of that takes time, and you are entitled to taking as much time as you need.