By Allison Chawla
I discovered that making overly specific goals with uncompromising regulations has proven to be nothing but a set up for failure over the years. Many times I have attempted to meet the more popular achievements like New Year’s resolutions, thinking such a trending benchmark would help to hold me accountable. I tried upping my exercise game each week, giving up alcohol on weeknights, spending less and saving more, and designating more time for family. All which left me anxiety ridden, and feeling like a failure by February.
A recent and mere attempt at generating healthy meals five times a week (without visiting my beloved ‘seamless web’), lead me down a road of Chinese-food, binging shame. So why draw such hard lines? Why set myself up for failure when I know these rigid promises keep proving to be unattainable? With rates as low as 8% in those actually committing to resolutions and life-changing goals, and an endless flow of information containing “the newest quick fix craze” why keep searching for something outside, when I knew the answers were within?
I practice mindfulness with my clients after all. As a matter of fact, one of the first things I do when someone tells me that they are experiencing anxiety is teach them how to begin a simple meditation practice. I discuss the value of awareness and the importance of trusting one’s instincts, and while I am trained in clinical approaches, I always incorporate the importance of self-healing the soul. Nothing is perfect, and setbacks will occur. But, I am a firm believer in the relevance of the mind-body-soul approach with all areas of healing. It is just a matter of being open and finding the right guidance if help is needed to begin bringing these practices into your life.
Below I have listed some Mindful values that I share with my clients, and try to practice myself. Everything is based on information gathered on existing techniques to lower levels of anxiety and depression and encourage healthier living. In the mental health world, some of these approaches are known as a technique called “DBT.” To many of you out there, it may simply resonate as a familiar way of maintaining inner peace….
Live intentionally, and with awareness in the present moment: Be present in your own life and accept mistakes as part of your course.
Do not judge or reject your moments: notice consequences, but let go of evaluating, avoiding, suppressing or blocking the present moment.
Do not hold on to each moment: Attend the experience of each new moment, instead of clinging to the past or yearning for the future.
Be genuine and skillful in what you need from others: Get others to take your opinions seriously, say ‘no’ to unwanted invitations and requests.
Build relationships and end destructive ones: Be confident in ending hopeless relationships. Strengthen current and new ones.
Walk the middle path: Balance acceptance, and change in life.
Forgive yourself: Decrease unwanted emotions, decrease emotional vulnerability; decrease emotional suffering.
Live with gratitude in your heart.
Like any change, this too takes practice. It requires patience, forgiveness, and self-care. Do not try to recreate yourself overnight, and know that you will experience occasional setbacks. Forgive yourself for the little mistakes, and choose to learn from them instead of beating yourself up. We are all human. There is no such thing as ‘perfect.’ With that being said, I know there is always room to improve, and I do believe that with embracing practices like these and focusing on a Mindful perspective of life, it is possible to have the promise of more fulfilling and happier days to come.
Author: Allison Chawla
Allison Chawla is a Licensed Psychotherapist, a Certified Life Coach, and Writer.
She holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Fordham University, and has a private practice in New York City.
She is a devoted wife, and mother of two girls.