Category: Compassion

New Year Resolutions for the Soul

New Year Resolutions have a complex history and connotation with me as person who is always looking to self-improve and also as a therapist. While it’s definitely a good thing to work towards self-improvement and self-actualization, now more than ever, I’m in the mindset of being great exactly as we are in this moment, while at the same time also working towards feeling better (note that I didn’t say, ‘being better!’). While one might think that this is contradictory, it falls under what Marsha Linehan (developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy) two opposing truths existing in the same space. Seeing things and ourselves in this dialectical way helps us move beyond rigid rules of behavior, inflexible thinking patterns and all-or-nothing stances toward ourselves and others. Therefore, for people who have complicated relationships with New Year Resolutions due to not feeling good enough, or that something is wrong with them, I propose these 22 New Year Resolutions that are good for the soul, based off of compassion and self-care, and can help us improve the way we feel internally. As an added bonus, it helps us see improvement from a decolonized mindset since they encourage listening to your body, slowing down, resting, and setting necessary boundaries.

They are:

1. Rest. You are worthy of rest and slowing down. Listen to your body. 

2. Say to yourself a lot more, “I am worthy.” We are worthy simply because we are human. That is all. We are worthy of medical treatment, rights, justice, human dignity, simply because we are alive and breathing. Absolutely nothing makes us unworthy. Even if you did something wrong, you are worthy of self-forgiveness (since it’s the only forgiveness you can control). 

3. Delegate. The more we take on and do on our own, the more others will expect that from you. Plus, when you’re able to count on others to help you, it can increase your gratitude and sense of community triple fold.

4. Tell others “I won’t be able to ______, ” I need you to _______.” It’s a mix of boundaries, limit setting, and delegating. To add to #3, it’s a way for you to communicate what you can’t do and what you need help with. We need to give others the opportunity to step up and have our backs. This is essential in collectivistic cultures. 

5. Acknowledge your struggle. This one is rooted in self-compassion and acceptance work. We must first acknowledge our struggle or pain to be able to sit with it, listen to it, have empathy for ourselves. It helps us acknowledge our common humanity as a person who is suffering.

6. Declutter negative thoughts. Every time you notice yourself having a negative thought, try turning your mind to a more compassionate stance. You can do this by going back to #5 and acknowledging the struggle or suffering. This can help you stay in the present and prevent your brain from taking over into the negative. 

7. Accept help. This goes well with #3, except, every self-respecting “got it” person knows that it’s super hard to ask for help, and even receive it. So with this resolution, when someone genuinely offers to help, simply accept it. Let them carry something in for you, or even bring a dish to the celebration. 

8. Accept a compliment. How many times has someone complimented you and you made a “this old thing,” “it’s because I finally combed my hair” or put a compliment down because it was too hard to accept that someone said something nice to you? I can think of many times I was self-deprecating as a way to soften the compliment blow. Simply say thank you.

9. Try something new. Sometimes we’re feeling stuck in a routine or the things that used to excite us, no longer do. Perhaps the things we’re doing have an association with pain or they’re simply not helping us anymore. Experiencing new things can help your brain feel excited in a new way and the more you do this new thing, you are building mastery and getting better at it, which also makes us feel good. A dear friend of mine Violeta Huerta, LCSW (Instagram: @whimsicalhealinglcsw) felt like she wanted to try something new. One day she made the decision to make bread from scratch. She researched and got all the ingredients. She would soon find out that it would become a new passion for her and she exercised a lot of creative energy and felt an immense amount of joy and pride (not to mention how delicious it was). 

10. Try something old. Sometimes when we’re depressed, or simply due to new life circumstance we let go of doing something that used to bring us joy. Do that! I absolutely love to crochet, but since I have a small child, I’m not able to do it as often. But I miss it when I don’t. I miss the soothing rhythm and warm yarn. I also like challenging myself with new patterns and feeling a sense of accomplishment with each finished product. Try something that you used to love to do. 

11. Thank kindness. Anytime someone is kind to you, whether it’s opening a door for you, showing you compassion, bringing your favorite snack, offering you water, or letting you know you dropped your glasses, understanding your limit or decision, genuinely thank them. Going back to #3, #7, and #8, small acts of kindness can restore our sense of goodness in the world. 

12. Give yourself TLC. This is part two of #5. After you acknowledge your struggle or suffering, be good to yourself. Go easy on yourself. Rest. Make yourself a delicious meal. Drink tea or something that is essentially good for you. This is how you show yourself tender love and care. 

13. Breathe through pain & stress. Breathing is an understated skill that we all need. Breathing into our bellies before reacting to pain or stress can help us react with wanted reactions, rather an unwanted. Think of breathing as you taking over the steering wheel, versus your emotions streering. It can be a big situation saver. 

14. Show your body love. This one is clearly tied to #12, except that we can expand it to add going to doctor appointments, exercising so that you feel less physical pain, stretching or getting a massage to help the emotional and physical pain to relieve. It can even mean eating the foods that help your stomach feel good (they’re different for everyone). It can mean drinking water instead of that 3rd caffeinated drink. Or it can mean making sure you have your coffee with plant-based milk (because dairy hurts your stomach) in silence before walking in to work. Maybe it’s a nap, or maybe it’s going for a walk. Get to know your body and be good to it. 

15. Let go for one minute at a time. This one is about acceptance of reality in the present moment. It can mean accepting that you’re struggling. It does not mean liking or approving of it, it simply means acknowledging that it’s happening. Like, “It’s raining today” versus “I hate the rain. It shouldn’t be raining. It wasn’t in the forecast. I wasn’t prepared for the rain.” When we accept and “let go” of expectations or ‘shoulds’ we suffer a lot less. (See below for a reflection journal focused on acceptance and letting go). Try this for one minute at a time. It’s a muscle that has to be worked on and nurtured. 

16. Challenge yourself. If you practiced letting go for one minute, practice for one more minute. Same goes for going on walks or holding a plank. Maybe it means challenging yourself to take the next level class, or a difficult recipe. If you put a boundary with one person, try challenging yourself and setting another boundary with someone else. We can find mastery and sense of personal achievement in new skills. 

17. Do a hard thing. This is similar to #16 except that I wanted to use the language of “do a hard thing” because it’s something we’ve all mouthed at 5 years old and above. Things just seem too hard sometimes. This might mean leaving a toxic relationship, or tolerating the urge to feel a hard emotion like loneliness, pain or boredom. Sometimes being able to tolerate something that seems hard can get us over the avoidance hump and into mastery in no time.

18. Forgive yourself. We might engaged in real or perceived wrongs, mistakes, toxicity, etc. Start by forgiving yourself. Then move toward acceptance, compassion and TLC. You only have control over your own forgiveness, and just like acceptance is a muscle we have to practice and continuously nurture, so is self-forgiveness. 

19. Be around ‘safe’ others. Try to spend your time around people that are good to you, people that celebrate your accomplishments and see your inherent worth and dignity as a person. 

20. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. When you feel the urge to chastise or scold yourself, give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Trace your steps to see if you’re operating from a place of hurt, fatigue, burnout or illness. 

21. Nurture the relationship with yourself. Sometimes loneliness or boredom can be a blessing in disguise if we start to nurture the relationship with ourselves. Get to know yourself in this age, stage, body. We’re constantly changing and evolving. Take sometime to be your own companion. New passions and sense of purpose can emerge.

22. If it’s worth it, try again. If you find that you tried something a long time ago, or recently that perhaps you didn’t master or it didn’t pass muster and you think it’s worth it to try to master or learn it, go for it! I consider myself a pretty good cook and was incredibly disappointed at the 6 different times I tried to make pupusas and they were not like my Tia’s! But it’s worth it to me to keep trying because the pupusa is a tradition dish of El Salvador, my mother’s homeland and it’s a way for me to feel close to the culture and my roots. Plus, I have a large bag of masa that I have to use, so here we go. Perhaps one day I’ll write a post on mastery when I’ve mastered the pupusa! 

 

You can download the free New Year Resolutions for the Soul 8.5 x 11 Pdf where you can pick and choose which you’re attempting and on the reflection page write how it went for you. You might realize that it’s harder than you first imagined, especially if you’re used to the ‘hustle and grind’ or being so busy that you don’t know how to relax or even know what you like anymore. Self-kindness can be really hard if you’re not used it to, so know that it might take some time to develop this skill. 

If you’re interested in journaling gratitude or similar reflections for well-being, I have a few journals and guides on Amazon that can help you build this muscle. (Disclaimer: These are affiliate links and I will earn a small percentage for any item purchased through these links). 

 

 

I also have two 8×10 Vision Board Undated Monthly Planners that can help you visualize your goals for your well-being. The interiors are exactly the same, just the covers are different. What I love about them is that they’ll help you brainstorm values and goals for the year, visualize them by drawing or using images in blank pages, and planning behaviors to get people closer to the life they want to live. These are great planners for the year as it’ll get you thinking about what’s important to you, short and long term goals, and focus on the next steps you can take to reach them. There are 12 undated monthly calendars for you to fill in. In the pages after, there is are blank vision board pages with a habit tracker for each month to keep you focused and reminded.  

 

Know that you are worthy and exactly where you’re supposed to be right now in this moment. You are worthy in this year and the next. 

Please let me know how you like this New Year Resolutions for your Soul Reflection Page and feel free to share with others. 

Disclaimer: This post is for ideas only. It does not replace a relationship with a medical or therapy provider. 

Teaching Kids Empathy

On the heels of two mass shootings this weekend in the U.S., a slew of traumatizing immigration reform acts, and a lifetime of community violence in inner city neighborhoods, I’m left thinking, “where do we begin?” My friend and owner of Long Beach Littles reached out to me for information on how to teach kids empathy. Yes, empathy. That’s where we start. Below is an Instagram graphic I came up with on simple steps you an take to start today. I will also be linking all the books (click on affiliate link to purchase on amazon.com. Read disclosure statement at the bottom of page) that you can use with your kiddos to start talking and teaching about empathy. Be sure to keep visiting this page. As I read more, I’ll keep adding to this list.

Book Recommendations

Empathy and Compassion

“I am Human” – this gem has helped me teach mainly adults about empathy for themselves mainly. It’s great and I couldn’t recommend it more. I have copies at home, and both of my clinical offices. I usually have people pick what they need to hear for themselves the most or what they could say to someone in their life who is currently struggling

Feeling Identification

Special Needs Books

On Speech Impediment

Immigration

Racism & Discrimination

Homelessness and Poverty

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate. That means that if you purchase from the links above, I earn a small percentage. I use this compensation to invest in my ever growing library of books focused on healing and mental health awareness.

Self-Compassion on Valentine’s Day

Self-compassion on Valentine’s Day (and everyday, multiple times a day) is going to be important for people who might have some pain associated with relationships and find themselves triggered on this day (pretty much everyone). While the commercialization of the day is widespread, we can’t help but see all messages about love, coupledom, and gifts galore. Which in and of itself, can be triggering. While this day is associatedwith intimate relationships (at least here in the U.S., in Latin America it’s deemed Day of Love and Friendship), I’d like to invite you all to examine the relationship with yourself and practice self-compassion on Valentine’s Day, regardless of your relationship status, plans for the day, and even beyond that. Self-Compassion expert, Dr. Kristin Neff defines self-compassion as encompassing three main parts: self-kindness, the commonality of suffering among all, and mindfulness of emotions without judgment (www.selfcompassion.org). Easy-pleasy, right?

Practicing self-compassion can be really hard especially for people who grew up hearing constant criticism about the things they do or about who they are. Self-compassion might also be hard for those who tend to use rigid thinking, aka black-and-white and all-or-nothing thinking. “Shoulding” on yourselves and others also makes it hard to practice compassion because there is frustrated judgment/expectations.

The way you do self-compassion is by: 1) acknowledge the suffering, which can sound like, “I’m feeling really lonely right now.” 2) Explore with value is being targeted, “connection/love is really important to me. I like being with people who love me and who I feel safe around.” 3) Be kind to yourself (Tip: ifthis is hard to do, think of what you would tell your 5 year old self who is feeling lonely). You can do this by engaging in healthy relationships (key: must be healthy and safe) or by nurturing the relationship with yourself by engaging in things you like to do, being creative, treating yourself with a healthy activity, listening to your body (rest, eat, sleep, exercise, stretch, take prescribed medications, etc.), 4) Lastly, connect with the commonality of suffering and how kind you’ve been to others. Then turn that compassion toward yourself: “Suffering is a normal part of life. If my best friend was suffering, I’d hold her and tell her, ‘I got you.'” Get you. Hold you. Be good to you. Say these nice things to yourself. 

Self-care and self-validation are also crucial any time of the year. Self-care is when you do things that are simply good for you. Whether it’s saying no to others, feeding yourself, resting, taking a long bath, or prioritizing paying your bills, all those things are good for you. Self-validation is when you acknowledge your struggle for what it is and can link how feeling a certain way makes sense for you given your experience. It can sound like, “Yes, it makes sense to feel this.” It’s not praise, it’s more of telling yourself that your emotions are are true and they matter. 

Want to get yourself or a loved one something wellness related? Check out these gift ideas (Disclosure: I am a part of the Amazon Affiliate Program where I earn a small commission from items purchased from these links. Which I in turn use, to buy new books to review and recommend): 

  1. A weighted blanket which is said to help with sleep for people who suffer from anxiety disorders, sensory issues and many other sensitivities. 

2. Gratitude journal 

3. Passion Planner to help focus on goal setting.

4. Journal Focused on Affirming and Self-Care

 

5. “Read me when” Cards: I created these cards for people to use as coping cards or reminders for when times are tough and it’s hard to remember the balanced thoughts you came up with. They are wallet sized and on matted card stock paper. Sometimes it can make all the difference in coping. To order some, feel free to email me at info@sofiamendozalcsw.com. Mention this blog and get 20 for $10. 

 

Want to listen to amazing podcasts that inspire healing, growth, creativity and self-love? Check out these that I’ve been personally obsessed with in the last month: 

Hey, Girl by Alex Elle 

The Art of Money by Bari Tessler 

First Gen Journey by Dr. Elisa Hernandez 

Latinx Therapy Podcast by Adriana Alejandra Alejandre, LMFT 

Rad and Happy Podcast by Tara Nearents

In closing, I wish you all a great day whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not. I wish you all moments of peace from your suffering. Ultimately, I wish for you to find the right words and actions that contribute to your well-being. 

For more updates on the blog, giveaways, and sources of inspiration, follow me on instagram at @mendingrootstherapy. 

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