This week in a group I oversee for fledging therapists the leader asked members to reflect on their year.(The group consists of psychology students in their final years of undergrad who are hoping to become therapists and who commit to a 6-8 month – weekly group) Members then shared some of the significant realizations of their year. It was interesting the majority reflected on personal growth, but then again they are therapists in the making.
As a therapist and writer I had reflected similarly even before the group session, and had considered writing a blog about it. The topic of the night cemented my decision. What follows is my account of what I have accomplished this year, and perhaps some goals for the year coming.
First, the first member to share said she finds the idea of setting goals this time of year a bit hokey, and that goals toward change should be set and monitored regularly. I agree, and had posted an article from tiny buddha discussing this on my companion blog (zeneveryman). But I replied that the ending of the year and the beginning of a new is an excellent mile-marker. It is a good time to take stock of the path you’ve carved thus far, and the direction you wish to continue in.
My year was a good one. Along with teaching and keeping a private practice going, I accomplished a few other things professionally. First, I became a trainer for counselors certified in addiction treatment, providing self designed trainings for their continuing education.
Second, and I have a bit of pride about this one, I became a blogger / writer for Psychology Today. I love that magazine, and although I haven’t been published in it, I have made progress toward that by becoming a writer for their website. I’ve had five articles published there to date.
I also finished the first draft of a book I have been working on. It still needs a lot of work, but it was good to feel I got a good part done. I also started another book with a colleague about relationships.
But what I have worked on this year that I am most proud of (although pride goes very much against Zen and Tao philosophy) is my work on being a more loving person. I began this goal in the beginning of May. A Facebook friend introduced me to “May is for Metta,” a daily practice of meditation focused on feeling and giving love to all of humanity. There were daily instructions in the practice. I wrote a blog or two about it back then, and I encourage those interested to look there for more information.
Let me say briefly why this is such an accomplishment. I do not look or act like a typical therapist or professor. I have earrings and tattoos. I have a Philly attitude, which most would not describe as “brotherly love”. I come from a blue collar background. That background seems to come through still, all these years later, in my language and attitude. I’m not a tough guy, but for a therapist it might appear that way. I am also pretty confrontational and generally a passionate person, so I might not fit the standard image of a therapist.
So, this work toward being a more loving person is substantial. It isn’t that I don’t love others in a general, Eastern sense of the word. But I haven’t always presented that way, or been in touch with it as readily.
This work has been helped by my romantic relationship, and has also been reflected in it. I believe I have become the most loving partner I have ever been. (My sincere apologies to those before). This is the result of a combination of the person I am with, the relationship itself, the circumstances, and my work on being more loving. These dynamics seem to work together to facilitate the change in all of the areas.
So this internal change is what I consider my biggest accomplishment this year. I hope to continue on that path through this coming year and longer. Otherwise I hope to keep writing, finish a book and have it published, and generally just continue on the path I am on.
May you all create the best life for yourself in the coming year.