Reflect. It’s what many of us do when a new year begins. So what do you do at the start of a new decade? We have just been ushered into one with the dawning of 2020. Ten years worth of reflection seems daunting though – it takes the whole idea to an entirely different level. Is new year reflection really helpful? It can be – depending on your perspective.

Reflection is about deep thought or consideration. When kept in proper perspective, reflection can be a tool to help us learn, grow, and move forward in life. On the flip side, reflection can keep us stuck in our heads and prevent us from fully participating in our lives when our outlook is grounded in fear and self-doubt, rather than in hope and self-discovery. Personally, when I dive too deep into the pool of reflection, I get lost in my head and I get critical of myself and others. That’s where perspective comes in.

We have both a head and a heart – logic and emotion – for a reason. Helpful reflection is about balance. It’s not only about the thinking (i.e. reflecting), but also about allowing yourself to be curious about the emotions attached to your thoughts. Whether it’s on the horizon of a new decade, a new year, or a new day, our perspective drives our reflective process. Perspective is the way we see things – it’s an attitude or a point of view. The Latin root of the word perspective is to “look through”. Perspective shapes the way we see things – it’s the lens through which we see the world. If you don’t see emotions as helpful, then you won’t allow yourself to feel them. That’s like having a body with a head but no heart. Not balanced. Our experiences can shape our lens of perspective.  For instance, I was once in an abusive relationship and I often felt fearful and insecure as a result. When I was in that relationship, I viewed everyone and everything with a lens of fear and insecurity. This took a toll on my health and impacted my interpersonal relationships. It took me years even after I left the relationship to change my perspective from fear and insecurity to hope and confidence. Shifting my focus shifted my perspective. I started paying attention to my own health and started caring for myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was able to practice healthy relational boundaries. Now, two decades later, I see life and relationships very differently.

Reflection is simply about checking in with yourself:What’s working in your life? What isn’t working? What do you want to do differently? What do you want to keep doing? Are you heading in the direction you want to go in your life? If not, is there anything you can change to give yourself a course correction? In the reflection process, check your perspective. Is it healthy? Balanced? Are you giving yourself and others grace? Are you living according to your values? Your perspective – the lens through which you see yourself, as well as everyone and everything around you – will shape your life. If you feel your lens is unbalanced or unhealthy, talk to a trusted friend, mentor or even a professional counselor to get some help in shifting your perspective. Sometimes objective advice is the best advice; two decades ago it helped me to see things from another perspective and changed my lens to a much healthier one.

Hope whispers, perspective matters.

At the dawning of a new decade, I noticed myself being curious about the past few decades. I reflected back and noticed a heightened awareness that my life has changed a great deal. I took stock. My life is far from perfect, but I have many things for which to be grateful. I have a laundry list of mistakes and failures and things I wish I’d done differently but looking at my life through a lens of regret will not help me move forward. It will suck me into a vortex of depression and self-blame. If you can relate, don’t do that to yourself. Viewing our mistakes through a lens of learning from them gives us the chance to evolve into better humans. I am grateful for second chances. For forgiveness. For love and the kindness of others. For faith and for the belief that things really can get better – that’s what hope is all about. Why not choose to view the world through a lens of hope? It’s a great way to live. For me, it’s the only way to live.

Last year was challenging for me in several areas of my life. I had to say goodbye to my mom; job changes left me without work for a few months; and I was not able to restore a significant relationship that I had hoped to. There were heartaches, disappointments, and setbacks. But instead of seeing all of these situations as problems, I chose to see them as opportunities to rest, refocus, reflect, and redirect myself. It’s been nine months since my last post. It was April 2019 when I shared some reflections on grief after my mom passed away. I did not even realize until 2019 came to a close and I took pause to reflect that the majority of the year every ounce of my energy was spent on trying to navigate and survive some extreme changes in my life. Surviving is exhausting work. Writing is a creative process for me that I highly value, but I realize now that I didn’t have any energy this past nine months leftover to devote to creating. I hate that life sucked me dry like that, but it was the season I was in. And seasons are temporary. They change. We change. We move on – and into another season.

It’s a new year. With new opportunities. What season do you find yourself currently in? What do you need to do to take care of yourself now and moving forward into the year ahead to make the most of the opportunities before you? Is your perspective putting you on the path you desire? If so, forge ahead and enjoy the journey! If not, reshaping your perspective can redirect your life. Give it a try. If you’re not headed in the direction you want, then you’ve got nothing to lose and a full year ahead to make some gains.

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