In the past few weeks I'm sure you've heard at least one person say, “2016 really sucked.” This is compounded by people like John Oliver who on his show Last Week Tonight did a five minute video of people repeatedly saying “F*&^ you 2016.” Hearing such negativity cycled over and over gets disheartening and casts a dark shadow on our psyche.
It is no doubt 2016 was a difficult year for many reasons. The crisis in Syria continued to worsen, the tragedy at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and the election did not go as many wanted or expected. On a more personal note, many people lost loved ones, had children who were diagnosed with cancer, or were forced out of their jobs and homes. With all of that being said I wonder if there is there another way to look at the year?
In therapy there is a widely used term called cognitive reframing. It is an attempt to help a person see an event from an alternate perspective with the hope of finding something different and perhaps positive. To clarify this is NOT an attempt to take something awful and slap a shiny coat of paint on it but rather to help a person see that while things might be terrible, the world generally keeps moving forward. There is maturity and depth when we are able to glean more than one perspective from a seemingly hopeless and dark situation.
Here's an example of how cognitive reframing has helped some of my clients. As I talk with my clients, we'll go over how 2016 held pain, sadness and overall difficulty. From there, I encourage them to start saying and eventually thinking “2016 was hard for me but despite it all there was still so much goodness.” We'll then dig into the "goodness" of the year. What were the small wins? What were the things that caused joy? People got married, diseases were cured, babies were born, new businesses were created, and people shared gifts, laughter and love with one another. The list goes on and on. I venture to say that for every evil and difficult thing that occurred, at least one and more likely two good things occurred. That is the positive cycle of life. As clinicians we want to help people to feel and understand the pain that exists in their life and then continue to help them move forward.
With the curtain for 2016 having been drawn, I hope 2017 is a year where we learn to look beyond the cycle of negativity, darkness and hate and push forward towards light and love. It is said that darkness hates the light. Let’s all learn to lean towards the light in an attempt to suffocate the darkness.
If this blog resonates with you and you would like some help processing painful things in your life, call us at 303-393-0085 or visit us on the web at www.foundationsfamilycounseling.com and we will help you to get to a better place. We can help you learn to cope, let go, accept, forgive, heal, move forward, and discover peace and a little joy.
~~ Ashley Banister-Riley