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Control, Alt, Delete 2020: Time to move on, towards 2021

It is the beginning of a new year and the time when many people begin to reflect on the previous year. This when there are numerous thoughtful articles and TV shows devoted to looking back on the past year, asking us to consider what we’ve learned, gained and lost from 2020. Here’s a thought: Let’s forget 2020 and move on.

I think we can all agree, 2020 was one of the worst years in our collective histories and one we’d rather forget. Thinking about going back in time and remembering what we suffered is asking to inflict even more pain on yourself than necessary. Now more than ever, let’s move on. However, it may be easier said than done. This is when a purposeful strategy can help you mentally move out of 2020 and into 2021, ready to once again feel a sense of hope.

Mind’s power

You are probably familiar with the concept of the mind and its power to influence how you feel and act in response to those feelings. But consider how powerful the human mind really is. While you are in control of your mind and direct your emotional reactions, you are responsible for ensuring that all vital organs and essential bodily functions function, unless of course there is some form of physical impairment. This is a pretty awesome responsibility for the mind to coordinate on its own and without your direct input. The mind is also capable of learning, as evidenced by its ability to complete new tasks and acquire new knowledge and skills.

What also makes the mind powerful is its ability to receive and transmit thoughts. We are always thinking, even during a meditative state when some form of thought still exists. Those thoughts can consist of anything from evaluating the details of a current project, interacting with our surroundings, to thinking about anything random that comes to mind. The mind is receiving and processing information from all the senses, determining what is important and needs more attention, while discarding any information deemed irrelevant. What typically determines relevance is a matter of context and how useful or necessary the information may be. If the information is useful, it is stored in working and long-term memory for current and future use. What all this means is that the mind is always working, with thoughts always present.

Engaging 2021: Full steam ahead

When you understand that the mind is powerful and is always producing thoughts, you become aware of the possibility of thinking about the past. This is especially true at a time of the year when we are all looking back on what happened in 2020 and are being asked to think of it as a point of reflection and learning. To ensure you stay focused on the future and think productively, the following strategies can help. You may find one or all of them helpful, whenever you find yourself stuck in a repetitive thought cycle from the painful past, or need to address any kind of unpleasant thought.

Strategy One: Create Lessons Learned

One of the most likely thoughts that you will find yourself thinking about this time of year, and will probably be asked to think about, is something related to the past. While there are many happy memories that can be found in the past, there are memories that can interrupt your thought process and remind you of mistakes, regrets, and other negative events. Whenever you feel uncomfortable due to thoughts about something where you feel like you made the wrong decision, were disappointed, or any kind of “should have” scenario, now is the time to change your thinking.

You do this by deciding not to fight the thought, but to create a lesson learned from it. This will help you spend less time thinking about specific incidents, especially when those negative thoughts want to play out in an endless cycle. Take the thought of the past and face it head on. What can you learn from it? Be honest about it so that you can address it and resolve it. By solving it I don’t mean that you will necessarily find answers; however, you will prevent thoughts from having power as you will now have something productive associated with each one.

Strategy two: turn thoughts into goals

When you find yourself thinking about something unproductive that is interrupting your day, making a change depends on what your frame of reference is and what you want to achieve. Some of the most unproductive thoughts that can interrupt your day and your mood are those that involve thoughts of failure, or anything where you felt you were unsuccessful and didn’t accomplish what you hoped to do. Those particular thoughts, if left unchecked, can create feelings of frustration, disappointment, resentment, and more. It can create a cycle of negativity that disrupts your life.

Whenever you find yourself thinking about something of this nature, you can do more than turn this thought around, you can make it a goal. For example, if you feel that you were unsuccessful in some aspect of your career, boil it down to a specific statement about what you can improve to be successful in the future. You can then develop a goal with measurable objectives and an action plan for achieving it. Perhaps you need to learn a new skill, acquire new knowledge, make a new plan, develop new strategies, or any other related possibility. The point is to turn the thoughts that can weigh heavily on your mind into a productive exercise, with the purpose of transforming your way of thinking.

Strategy Three: Find Hope in a Fearful Place

There is a third type of negative thinking that can arise whenever you reflect on the past, are faced with an unknown situation or circumstance, or feel out of control. This is a fear-based thought, which can also have a physiological effect on you, depending on the circumstances of the event involved.

What I would like to address is a fearful thought that arises as a result of self-reflection or thinking about the past. A feeling of fear, and even panic or anxiety, can arise when thinking about events from the past. This is especially true now for those who are struggling with circumstances and only think about the decisions they made in the past. No matter how many times someone tells you not to be afraid, fear can always remain in your mind.

So how do you find hope when everything you’re thinking about produces feelings of fear? You can’t go from fear to hope like turning a light switch on and off. It must be a conscious effort made, a decision to gradually release fear. In order to do this, you must have a belief system to support a change. Please try the following steps.

First ask yourself: What is the basis of my fear?

This will allow you to peek behind the curtain, so to speak. You will take the mystery out of fear-based emotion.

Once you have addressed what the fear is, you can ask yourself: Is this fear based in reality?

Perhaps you are afraid that you will not be able to pay your rent this month and this is all you can think of. You’ve decided that this is based on reality.

The next step is to ask yourself: How can I go from feeling afraid to feeling productive?

One of the most effective methods to stop the cycle of negativity, regarding feelings of fear, is to find their cause and then turn it into something productive. What is the fear based on and what can you do to become productive? What you are actually doing is giving yourself a renewed sense of hope while finding a way to resolve the reason for the fear itself. From fear, hope can shine.

Make happiness a priority

I want this new year to be a year of renewal for our country, and most importantly, I want the beginning of the new year to represent hope. The best way to move forward now is to think about the future, about the possibilities that lie before us. If you find yourself reflecting on the past, focus on memories of friends and family who brought you happiness and love. This helps set a positive mood. If you are feeling negative thoughts, consider the suggested strategies and remember that the mind has a transformative force that can be used to help bring about significant changes in your life.

While you are waiting for changes in society and medicine, you can already begin changes in your attitude and disposition. You already have a source of well-being and resilience within you, and it is managed by the most powerful form of energy available to you, your mind. It’s time to control, alter, and erase 2020. Commit yourself to moving into 2021, starting with the power of your mind, and make the start of this year the best you can be, however you can. When you make happiness a priority and direct your mind to maintain it, you are sure to be ready for the new year.

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