For the past few weeks, I’ve been battling a nasty sinus infection/cold/cough. It hit me right in the middle of my parents’ visit to my new apartment over Thanksgiving and lingered through the first few days of December.
Getting sick is all around miserable (as I’m sure you know.) All I wanted to do was sleep but my dog and congestion had other ideas. I was in a grumbly mood about spending too much money on tissue boxes and cough drops and annoyed at myself for coughing through my little brother’s birthday dinner. I wasn’t getting better fast enough and that just made me more disgruntled.
I finally started to feel a little better earlier this week, so I scheduled a video session with my therapist. It was my first session in about a month. I started off my time by listing the current cons in my life. I, of course, complained about being sick and how I didn’t like feeling stuck in my apartment. I talked about the car accident I’d had earlier in November and how it really spooked me. I told her I was eating too much junk food and that I wanted to cook more.
After getting out the nuisances, I spent the rest of the session talking about all the good in my life right now.
I told my therapist how much I was enjoying my new city and how my apartment was really starting to come together. I shared the special moments I’ve had with my birth siblings here, like helping my little sister with her school play and watching my little brother play football and soccer. I detailed how fun it was to have my parents stay at my apartment, despite all three of us being sick. I explained just how special it feels to see my birth dad regularly and be part of his family. I mentioned that I had managed to write 35,000 words of a new novel. It wasn’t the complete 50,000 I was going for during NaNoWriMo, but it was still an accomplishment. I informed her that I was going to audition for the local community theatre.
Happy tears were streaming down my face by the end of the session.
She mentioned how much better I was doing now compared to how awful I had felt after my engagement ended. She remarked about how I should be proud of myself for making big and necessary life changes and how my efforts were paying off. I thanked her for all of her help and signed off.
This session reminded me how important it is to take stock regularly, to take time to evaluate where you are now and how you got there. It’s easy to get caught up in the little things, like stuffy noses and rush hour traffic, and ignore the bigger picture. Our world is constantly in motion, but taking time to pause and reflect helps us remember what matters.
Even though I’ve been feeling crummy for the past few weeks, my life has generally taken a huge turn since March and I’m so grateful for that. That’s what so good about self-evaluation. It helps our perspective.
Therapy is a effective way to take stock regularly because therapists keep track of your life, and it’s easier to find a therapist than ever before, but it can also be done independently. Write about aspects of your life in a journal and explore the positives and negatives of each aspect. Answer truthfully when a close friends asks you how you’re doing, don’t just leave it at “fine.” Meditate and then take time to examine your thoughts and feelings. Be honest with yourself.
Of course, we’re not always happy with our findings when we take stock. We might feel like we’re not doing enough with our lives, not accomplishing as much as we’d want to. We might discover one of our relationships is toxic or that we’re more lonely than we’d like to admit. We might realize that anxiety is ruling our actions or that our trauma is affecting our daily lives.
In this case, let taking stock motivate you to determine your next steps. Let it help you figure out what matters to you. I probably wouldn’t have restarted therapy if I hadn’t taken stock in April and figured out I needed help, so know that taking stock can be helpful regardless of whether you’re generally happy or not. More recently, I’ve been trying to drink more water because taking stock helped me figure out that I wasn’t as hydrated as I’d like to be.
As you head into the hectic holiday season, make sure to take a few moments for yourself to take stock of your life. Celebrate how far you’ve come since childhood, college, in the last year. Remind yourself of accomplishments, big and small, that make you proud. Make note of the people who make you feel your best and take time to express your appreciation. Find the secret good in situations that seem to be only bad.
Regardless of whether you’re happy with your findings, you’ll start tomorrow, next week, or next year with a better understanding of yourself and be able to make informed decisions moving forward.