Aside from the sound of fireworks, trumpets, pots and pans clanging, and joyous yelling coming from every direction, many of us probably also heard a collective sigh of relief when 2023 finally came to a close.
Last year was frankly awful. Aside from many global events that both shocked and horrified millions of people around the world (yes, it’s about Gaza), it was also probably filled with personal challenges and many, many losses (yes, I’m speaking from personal experience).
If you’re entering the new year exhausted, you’re definitely not alone. We’re all carrying the weight of the past few years—and one long, awful pandemic—on our shoulders. It’s about time that we lighten the load on ourselves so we can take on this (hopefully) better year with a more positive outlook.
So in the spirit of starting fresh, here are a few things we should all leave behind in 2023—and one thing we should have more of.
We are our own toughest critics—well, aside from our well-meaning mothers, that is. There’s pressure from everywhere to perform to the best of our abilities, but sometimes our best isn’t enough, especially to us.
If we don’t reach a certain metric we’ve set for ourselves, like losing weight, or getting married by a certain age, or not landing a specific client you’ve been dreaming of, it’s easy to fall into the habit of bullying ourselves for it.
Negative self-talk is something that can deeply harm you even if you don’t notice it at first. It might start as just being frustrated about a certain task not going your way, but that can spiral into you talking badly about yourself.
If something goes wrong, it’s important to remember that you may have had a hand in its failure, but you yourself aren’t a failure. I once told my friends that I’m my biggest problem because the common denominator in all of my failures is me (an example of bullying myself). They kindly reminded me that the reason I’m the common denominator is because it’s my life and no one else’s.
If anything, we all have to be kinder to ourselves this new year.
We deserve it.
Caring about what other people think a little too much
Receiving and applying constructive criticism with grace is good, but you shouldn’t let what other people think about you rule how you live. There are people who mean well, and they will tell you what you need to hear. Then there are people who just have a lot to say, and most of those things aren’t necessarily for your well-being.
Listening to the former is good for you while listening to the latter and caring too much about what they say will leave you feeling worse. Even with the people who do mean well, you should draw a line for what you’re willing to listen to.
It’s your life. Everyone will have something to say. Just live it as best as you can.
I’m a staunch advocate for creating communities, but that doesn’t mean everyone should belong to your village. The new year is a great time to reevaluate your relationships with other people, no matter how long they’ve been in your life.
The sunk cost fallacy is the reason many people still hang around others who aren’t good for them. For this situation, the closest translation to Filipino is “sayang.” It’s “sayang” that they’ve been in your life for so long, so might as well let them stay. This is also the reason people can be unhappy in their marriages and relationships. It would be a waste to let all those years go down the drain.
Don’t bring people that hurt you or make you unhappy deeper into the new year. This should be the year of prioritizing yourself and the people who actually love and care about your first. Grieve the relationship, but let yourself let go and move on.
Many of us are at the age where we (begrudgingly) realize that our parents were right about many things—including moderation. Overworking, overspending, over-saving, overeating, oversleeping (ouch), over literally everything is bad. Period.
Too much of anything is bad, even if it’s a good thing. Like working hard. It’s good to be passionate and put in effort, but not taking a break can lead to burnout. In this instance, it’s best to slow down for our own sake so we can hit the ground running when we feel better.
Self-destruction under the guise of “self-care”
If you feel called out by this, don’t worry. I also feel called out by this. When we’re not in a good place, we usually try to do something to make ourselves feel a little bit better. Whether it’s going out, going online shopping, or staying in and avoiding all forms of human contact for at least 10 to 15 business days, we usually view these actions as a form of self-care.
While it may be self-care at first, falling back into these actions repeatedly can become damaging in the long run. As much as I hate to say it (and I really absolutely do hate to say it), self-care isn’t always about instant gratification.
It’s good to have coping mechanisms, but abusing those coping mechanisms can end up hurting yourself—and your bank account.