Happy new year, friends! 2018 was a challenging year. The first half of the year started with postpartum depression, but eventually my mood began to improve and I began to enjoy life again, as I watched my boys grow, got in better and better physical shape, and welcomed my 30th birthday. The second half of the year, though, feels almost like it happened to someone else. There were grossly unexpected traumas and losses that knocked the absolute wind out of me, many days where I didn’t think I would make it through the night, and it took me months to put myself back together.
Still, there were positives throughout the year – I finally started the fitness career I’d been dreaming of for years. My blogging career continued to flourish. I worked with my husband to rejuvenate and refresh our marriage, and we began to love and support each other with greater intention and purpose. And now I’m going into the new year with a mindset of growth – taking all of the painful lessons I learned this year and using them to be the best version of myself.
I did some intense introspective work with a therapist in the latter half of 2018, and now I feel confident admitting to some of the habits that drug me down the most this year – and that I’m truly ready to let go of for good.
I’ve seen a lot of people coming up with their “word” for 2019 – the theme by which they plan to live. My word is EFFORT. Changing your body takes effort, sure, but I’m used to doing that. Changing your thinking though – that takes a lot of effort that I haven’t been making so much. Changing the habits you’re comfortable in – like my aversion to cooking and cleaning – that’s effort. Changing my emotional response when I initially feel anger or envy or judgement – that’s effort. This year, I’m willing to make the effort.
Here are 7 toxic and self-destructive habits that I’m going to actively work on kicking this year.
1. Viewing other women as competition.
This is something that no one wants to admit out loud that we do, but here I am doing it, because #HonestyAll2019. I’m competitive in many aspects of my life. My blog following, my physical fitness, my marriage, my social life – it’s a deeply rooted, unconscious thing, but it’s difficult me to accept how well I’m doing (or not doing) without quantifying it as being “better” or “worse” than the next woman. I don’t like doing this and it never leads me to a happy place. So this year, I really want to focus on being happy for other women and their success in whatever aspects of their life they’re flourishing in. I’d love to be able to actively cheer for them rather than place their accomplishments alongside mine and determine whose are greater. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s been a part of my thinking for so long, it’s going to take effort to stop. But this year, I’m making the effort.
2. Comparing myself to other people in an unhealthy way.
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. I’m tired of living my life in a state of comparison. I’m tired of placing what I have – my physique, my car, my home, my family, my income – next to what other people have. I’m tired of feeling bummed out because of those unnecessary comparisons. It’s gross and exhausting. This is something I started working on last year with my therapist, and we’ve made a lot of progress! But it’s an ongoing process that I plan on making the conscious effort to continue in the new year.
3. Scrutinizing my appearance.
My therapist gives me “homework” assignments at the end of every session. In our second or third session together, I told her that I can be very critical of my appearance and as a result, I look in every reflective surface I pass. She gave me the homework assignment to hang sheets over all of the mirrors in my house. If my husband wanted to look, she said, he was fully capable of moving them. I did it. I was supposed to keep them up for a week. Friends, that was three months ago and those sheets are still up and I’m not taking them down. Taking that one thing out of my daily routine – that one completely unnecessary stressor – made such a big difference in my overall mood and pushed me forward to making the effort to find other ways to drop this negative habit.
4. Holding myself to impossible standards.
Before last year, I never would have referred to myself as a perfectionist. I thought to be a perfectionist, you had to be near perfect in every regard, right? But recently, I realized, that’s not necessarily true. My definition of perfectionism turned out to be the simple fact that I thought I needed to be so perfect in every aspect – in my health, in my career, in motherhood, in marriage, with family and friends – and when I knowingly fell short, I was so hard on myself. It was knowing that I wasn’t perfect, but for some reason, feeling guilty about that. Yeah, I don’t wanna do that anymore. This year, I’m working hard to treat myself the way I would treat a friend. I would never judge a friend for not being perfect. I have no problems handing out grace and I am quick to acknowledge when someone else is doing their best. This year, I’m making the effort to do that for myself as well.
5. Isolating myself from friends – or potential friends.
Being an introvert is so hot right now. Every meme is about being isolated, not wanting to talk to or be around others, etc. It’s been greatly normalized, and hey – I love a good meme. So that normalization made me feel like the way I tend to isolate is normal. The thing is, social anxiety is real, sure. Introversion is real. But I am working to stop using them as an excuse to not make the effort to develop relationships. The truth is, I’ve been living in this town for a few years now, and I haven’t made many friends, because it takes effort. But that’s what I’m doing this year!
6. Allowing my mental illness to control my life.
I have not been shy at all about discussing my struggle with mental illness on this blog. Depression and anxiety have a tendency to run my life if I allow them to. And when I’m having a depressive episode, effort to do virtually anything is non-existent. I don’t want to go through that this year. That means putting myself first – making sure I do everything and see everyone (various mental health professionals) I need to do to stay healthy. And yep, that takes effort too! It’s easy to put myself at the bottom of the list and make sure my family’s needs are met. But this year, I am putting forth the effort to take care of myself as well.
What’s your word for 2019 and what habits are you leaving back in 2018? Tell me in the comments below!