How To Persevere

Written by Meaghan Heighway, LMHC-P

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’” (Mary Anne Radmacher)

Hope is a precious commodity. As we start the New Year, we tend to see fresh hope, the gain of something we may have thought had vanished. But what about once some time has passed and your resolutions are fading? Here are three suggestions for how to keep your hope alive and persevere with your goals, as we continue on in 2015:

  1. Practice compassion towards yourself. We’re often our own worst enemies, because we tend to be hyper-aware of our short-comings. If your best friend was going through a tough experience, what would your knee-jerk response be? Most likely, you would come alongside him or her, and ask, “How can I help?” or say, “You’re doing the best you can.” The same compassion that is easy to pass on to those we care about, needs to be what we liberally give ourselves. For example, when we slip up and eat that cookie (which wasn’t a part of the new weight-loss plan), instead of saying to ourselves, “You’ll never lose those pounds if you keep inhaling the sugar!” try something slathered with mercy, such as: “Everybody makes mistakes. One slip does not mean I’m doomed to fail, or that this whole day is a wash-out. I will try again, right now, and tomorrow.”
  2. Identify the clutter. Maybe one of your resolutions is to de-clutter your house this year, and that’s an admirable goal. But did you know that there are many types of clutter, and not all of them are physical? Just like a buried desk can leave us with a sense of anxiety and stress whenever we see it, so can our mental clutter impede our days. One instance of mental clutter is false expectations. For example, let’s say you expect yourself to clear out the entire garage by the beginning of February. While that’s a lofty goal, if you aren’t making concrete plans to carry it out, you will be setting yourself up for misguided expectations and disappointment. What are some ways you can make your expectations more realistic? Gauge the size of your goal – if it’s cleaning out the garage, how big is the space? Do others have ‘stuff’ that shares that space, or can you delegate where all of it goes? Where will you transfer your clutter, once the goal is finished (i.e. Salvation Army, or other places that are open to receive good items for others’ use)? By having a concrete plan in place, you can make sure that your expectations are realistic, which leads to the gift of clearing up some mental clutter, as well!
  3. Keep the flame alive. Hope is like fire – something that can add so much warmth and comfort to our lives, but is also easily extinguishable. Two ways to protect the flame of your hope from going out are: gratitude, and looking backwards. Gratitude is a concrete practice that forces us to acknowledge the gifts we already have in our lives. For example, try writing down three things you are grateful for, every day for a week. By deliberately focusing on your precious assets, you are fanning the flame of hope. Another technique to keep hope burning is looking backwards – remember, when you have had hope in the past. For example, did you have friends and family who rallied around you, during a crisis? The chances are very good that the next time a bump in the road comes up, those supports will be there still. Decisively bringing to mind what has been there in the past leads us to actively believe that the same good events will happen again, and this keeps hope alive and well.

No matter what you are staring down at the beginning of this New Year, one way of practicing courage is by continuing to try. Keep fanning the flame of your hope, for this can make all the difference in the world.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is intended to educate, inform and entertain. This does not represent psychotherapy, therapeutic assessment, or any other form of therapeutic intervention. This should not be used as a substitute for consultation and treatment with a licensed mental health professional. If you have questions related to the material contained in this site please contact CCM or a licensed mental health professional of your choice.

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