Reflections on 2020
with Dr. Lydiana Garcia
Even though 2020 has been a crazy year, I think it deserves a lot of reflection and a lot of exploring as we enter this new year. Time may just be a concept that human beings designed, but sometimes it helps us have a structure about cycles, when some things end and new things begin. From this perspective, I invite you to think about the things that you want to close as part of 2020, and the ideas that you want to bring into your life or just reflect about for 2021.
Simple and Effective Ways to Help You Reflect about the Year
Here are three simple and effective ways to help you reflect about the things and lessons that 2020 has brought.
1. Go through the goals and/or activities you've planned for the year.
Whether you created a new year’s resolution or list down your goals, it will be good if you can just go through it, and check what was done and what wasn’t. You can start from checking which goals you’re able to achieve. Or look through your calendar for the different things and activities you’re able to do, including the ones that didn’t push through, and start looking back on how the year went.
2. Explore what it is for you to learn.
I’m in between believing that things happen for a reason and that some things just don’t have any reason. But I like to explore the lessons that are there because I’m always seeing life as a bunch of different lessons. And the more that I explore what is it for me to learn, that more that it helps me change the way of seeing things and gives me a different perspective. And whether it is true or not, it just helps me feel better. There’s a lot of different spiritual beliefs and perspective, like thinking that everything bad happens for you to learn something, and whether you believe this or not, it could just be helpful to change your perspective. Because changing our perspective impacts the way that we feel and our overall state of being.
And that’s what I’m going to invite you to. Try to look about the things that happened to you and ask yourself, “Is there a lesson for me to learn from this?” You can ask yourself out loud or it would also help if you journal about it.
3. Reflect on the things you can change.
After you’ve explored the lessons that 2020 has brought, think about the things where you can apply those lessons to, or the things you can change for this new year. Many of us have experienced that we “learn a lesson” but then we didn’t really apply it, so then we keep learning that same lesson or different stages of that same lesson. This is also part of the reason why we need to explore the lessons so that way you can apply what you learned into your future or into your present.
While it is good to reflect about the previous year, this exercise may not be for everyone. If you find yourself in grieving process or is still hurting, it would be best not to fight what you’re going through, just honor it and allow yourself space and time. There are some people that have experienced so many losses and tragedies in 2020 that they’re not on that stage yet, they are still in the grieving process. If you find yourself still in that stage, it’s best to honor it. Because the more that you resist it, the more it persist. There’s no timeline for grief, or for feeling things so just go at your own pace, and know that all stages are there for a reason.
Reflecting as a Collective
There were a lot of things that happened in 2020 that impacted us as a collective. We have the pandemic and the social justices among other things. Here are a couple of things these issues have impacted us with as a collective.
1. Being pushed to rest.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the things that impacted us the most. It’s one of the first times that I’ve really reflected about how it feels that someone in Australia, somebody in China or in South America has also been impacted in a way or another by COVID-19. And one of the things that we experienced as a collective was be pushed to rest. Whether it was because you getting sick, or the country was on lockdown, or different kinds of quarantine that pushed people to stay put. And this was so, so hard for many people. I'm not dismissing the pain and the things that many are still experiencing but in general, majority felt they were pushed to rest, pushed to stay put, pushed to stop doing what they were doing, and felt fear about what's happening, and what's going to happen to them.
When the whole thing started, my son was going to get a surgery for his tonsils. It was very interesting because the week that we were asked to shelter in place, I was anyways going to take him out of school for him not to have any illness before the surgery. He did not have the opportunity to say bye to his friends because we thought he was only being taken to stay at home because of the surgery and that he’s going to return in April after the spring break. That was the plan and that’s what he believed in. But all of a sudden, there was no opportunity to say goodbye and there was no opportunity for him to transition.
At that time, I was also 8 months pregnant so it really threw all our plans away. My parents and aunt are supposed to come but then they couldn’t because of everything going on. And that meant that our plans for postpartum support got super slim. It was my sister who lives here that helped a little, and my sister in law who came from Puerto Rico. And that was it, we did not have much more support. I remember thinking how it was so hard, because that is exactly what I did not want to happen, to not have help, since that's something that really impaired and impacted my relationship with my son when I was in the postpartum stage with him. I also learned from my Season 2 podcast episodes all the support that new mamas need, and I had all these plans of how different I was going to do it this time because I now have the privilege and the resources. But then it's like, we can’t allow someone in the house, even if it's support. It was scary and I remember feeling so much anger and despair and grief, because of all the things that I wanted to do but we're just not able.
I'm just sharing this because I felt that for the first time in a long, long time, we all experienced something quite similar, the need to pause as a collective. And at the same time, even though we're all like being touched by the same ocean, which, let's say is the pandemic risk, we all have different vessels to float in the water. Some people were just like swimming on their own, some people had a boat, some people had a yacht, and all this different things depending on your privilege. But at the end of the day, we were all being touched by the same water.
2. Secondary trauma due to social injustices, racism and systemic oppression.
Another thing we experienced as a collective here in the US is the social injustices and racism and systemic oppression. Staying at home and going through all these experiences is especially hard especially for BIPOC, because as an oppressed community, they have to deal with most part on their own. There's all these different things that we're going about and all these different experiences, and having to process it by ourselves with limited resources, limited support, is in itself feels like a secondary trauma.
The other thing that’s contributing to this is all the heated political stuff towards the end of the year because of the presidential election. I started noticing how things can become so heated between families and friends over on social media. Both sides were proposing what the truth is and if you don’t believe the truth, then you’re dumb, or you had all these other names to call. This has brought a lot of pain because there was a lot of relationships that are now being impacted by this very strong beliefs. We're asked to stay at home because of safety but that this is also impacting one of the most important ways of coping, which is via co-regulation with others, and this in itself is really, really hard.
There's so much more, but these were the ones that I wanted to bring back into awareness, not that you really need to think about them, but how all these things are impacting us and continue to impact us has brought in so much of the things that you probably thought you were not able to handle. And that could be one of the lessons, that we are survivors.
Something that really helped me or one of the lessons I got from 2020 was that I am very pro coping skills and supporting each other. At the same time, I felt that a lot of the things that I was sharing and proposing were a little bit one-sided, like idealizing what it is to be regulated, idealizing what it is to cope with things, and not being in a survival mode. I still believe that being regulated is super important, but the other ones are also there for a reason. And that was a big learning for me, because I noticed that I was moving more into like an anti non-regulated. But I realized how that's just part of our lives, we need the dark, we need the light, we need everything.
These are just some of the things I wanted to reflect on. And as we’re moving into a new year, I invite you to work and keep on exploring these things:
- What are some things that continue to hold you back?
- How can you let go of these things?
- How can you start recognizing when you have some ability to manage things, or to influence something?
- What are some things that you can’t influence? Like changing someone’s way of thinking, which is something really hard and is not something you can completely do.
- How can you go back into you? What are your values? What are your beliefs?
- How are these values continue to serve you?
- What are some of the beliefs you have that you might question and that they might not be true for you anymore? And then you can let them go instead of like, holding on to it and lingering onto it. The more that you resist, the more these things persist.
It's been such a hard year for everyone, but I wish you the best as we start this new year. I invite you to go back in and that you really reflect about what's serving, what's not, and how to really let go of things that are no longer serving you.