2020 was truly the year of the good, the bad, and the somehow worse. However, now that the year is coming to an end, it is always a good habit to take some time for reflection, both about the events of the year itself and your personal feelings towards what happened. In this post we will be discussing the power of reflection itself, some standout events of the year, what we learnt from them, and how to find a little positivity out of all the chaos as we move into the new year.
Reflection and its Benefits
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle
Reflection can be such a positive method to use in order to give us some sense of inner peace. It allows you to look back and examine what exactly made you happy, sad, excited, or scared, and then gives you a chance to think about why? I know ‘Why?’ always makes it sound like an overtly philosophical question that we should sit down and ponder for hours, but it’s not that (although the quote from Aristotle above probably doesn’t help this point). It’s taking a little time whenever you need, but especially at the end of a year, to think about what happened, how it made you feel, and how you can go about changing the things that made you unhappy so that you can grow emotionally.
“The problem with introspection is that it has no end.” – Phillip K. Dick
Whilst reflection can be an important tool for us to use, if it’s applied in the wrong way it can do more damage than it is worth. Is it okay to look back at an event that made you sad or embarrassed then think about why? Yes. Is it okay to lay in bed at night and replay the event over and over again and re-feel those emotions in some form of introspective emotional torture? Definitely not. It’s about balancing how safe it is to relive those memories, knowing when to stop and what your emotional triggers may be when looking back.
Therapy is a great medium for making these journeys as it gives you a helping hand which can prevent you from spiralling too deep into the negative thought patterns you may be prone to. I would highly recommend seeking therapy to address deep personal issues that you don’t feel comfortable addressing alone, as long as you make it clear to your counsellor/therapist during your session which parts of the process you’re finding difficult. The more they know the more they can help.
2020: A Year in Reflection
I think it is important that we note that reflection doesn’t always have to be related to ourselves and can be a general social examination on what has happened instead. Using this while looking at the previous year, allows us to see were the world ‘currently is’. This isn’t something I would usually spend much time on, but with 2020 it seems to stick out as quite important. With Covid-19 and the likes of the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been huge change, both good and bad, and it’s worth thinking about.
A true recap of the year would cover many more events such as political changes like Brexit and the US Presidency, or even discuss some of the biggest scandals with regards to celebrity life, but that’s not really what I had in mind with this reflection. Taking into consideration the year, I found two huge aspects to discuss, both of which could be considered on topic for this blog or seen as something I may discuss here. These are the Covid-19 pandemic, and the massive mental health crisis 2020 has subsequently created.
If you were to ask 100 people which event summarised their 2020, odds are it would be some combination of the words ‘pandemic’, ‘lockdown’ and ‘coronavirus’. Looking back on this time last year, I couldn’t have predicted where this year would go. We have spent the majority of the year in a pandemic, our cities, and towns in lockdown. Not being able to socialise, or go to work, or travel to certain places. So many plans cancelled or postponed. Worse than all of this we have experienced loss like never before. Over 1.7 million, and counting, have died due to Covid-19, and each of us have probably been touched by this loss in one way or another.
With all of this isolation, loss, sickness, and grief going on, we are all so tired this year, and rightly so. Realistically with the way the year has gone it is ridiculous to think we all would just get on as normal with no pressure added to our mental health. People lost their jobs, faced trouble with their relationships, suffered bereavement in the form of family and friends and also experienced a lot of anxiety and depression with social distancing, mask wearing and self-quarantine. Not only this but many of us came face to face with our own mortality and also how our decisions could impact those around us.
The mental health crisis this has created is set to have a long rippling effect on the years to come but addressing the issues you have personally faced and then beginning that healing process through therapy, medication or some other medium of your choice will surely be of some help in getting you where you need to be.
The Brighter Side and Looking Forward:
I realise at this point, this post has focused on a lot of the doom and gloom of 2020, so I wanted to take some time to reflect once again, this time on the positives. We came together in a way like never before and this needs attention in itself. We adapted and learnt to work from home, our essential services worked harder than ever before to make sure the world kept going, we kept in contact with those closest to us via bubbling and Zoom became our setting for coffee dates and pub quizzes alike.
Not only did we keep our own lives going the best we could, but we also tried to help local communities too. We fought for equality through BLM, protesting throughout the world, we clapped for the NHS here in the UK, the streets of towns in Italy and other places in the world had socially distanced balcony parties and concerts, we wore masks to protect those around us, we donated our money and food and time to those who needed it, be it the vulnerable people shielding or those out of work. It would be naïve to say that every single living person was involved or in agreement with all of these, but as a world many of us strived to get through it and do it with as much pride and decency as we could muster.
Even on a less global or national scale, each of us have something positive we have done or that we can take with us from this year. I worked in an essential service and continue to do so. I also made huge progress on my personal mental health and got accepted to my first course of study on the pathway to becoming a therapist.
My partner finished his PhD and earned the title of Dr, my friends graduated from their degrees or found new potential relationships, my siblings continued to raise their young children in a trying time, helping them grow and learn in the process. All of these acts and more fill me with personal pride and satisfaction and these are the kind of feelings and achievements we can take with us into the new year and further.
I hope that as we move forward into the new year, we begin to rebuild and recover what was lost from 2020 but until that happens all we can do is continue to keep on trying our best to progress. I will hopefully get another article up before the new year or if not on New Years Day, but whatever your plans are, socially distanced or not, I hope each of you have a wonderful last few days of what’s been a pretty difficult year.
Feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts on 2020? What did you struggle with? More importantly what are you thankful for and what did you achieve? Finally, what are you most looking forward to in 2021? I look forward to hearing your thoughts. If you’re experiencing any of the feelings described in this post such as depression or anxiety, or know somebody who is, then there are many things you can do to help. Talking to somebody about how you or they are feeling can be very beneficial. If you’re not sure what to do but need urgent help, there are many emergency hotlines that provide support and encouragement such as Mind.org and Samaritans.org. You’re not alone in feeling this way, others are there to help.