This Year, I Hope You Choose To Be Present For Yourself

As I have read the resolutions of others, as I have shared the sayings to kick off the New Year, internally, I have struggled to make sense of everything that happened in 2021 or my life, for that matter. I struggled with how I wanted to take on 2022. Sure, I need to drink more water. I need to eat healthier. I need to actually make an appointment for a physical and an eye exam. Yes, I need to finish the home stretch of writing my book. I finally need to take this internal conflict about faith and beliefs head on. But to me, it did not feel like enough; it did not feel deep enough.

After much reflection and much effort to quiet my mind and my soul, I gained the clarity I needed. The message that probably has been there all along but I have been too busy, too tired, too stubborn, too fearful to hear had a chance to be heard. For too long, I have feared loss, I have feared true connection, I have feared death. I have lost so much sleep, so many friends, relationships, experiences. I have lost too many days and nights. Why? Because I was too scared to lose so I never allowed myself to gain.

S-O-S. Abandon ship! Retreat! The internal alarms that we have convinced ourselves “keep us safe”. Long have we characterized our efforts as “strength”, as “protecting ourselves”, as “learning our lesson from the past”. Oh yes, long have we disillusioned ourselves that by holding ourselves back, by not putting ourselves out there, by not trusting or engaging, we somehow were going to prevent bad things from happening and bad emotions from being felt.

For some of us, our elusive tactics have seemed enough to prevent true attachment, thus, to prevent true loss. We have not picked up the phone when it rang. We have found excuses for why we could not make it to that get together. We have packed our schedules so full of careers, of volunteering, and of solving the world peace crisis that we are too busy to hang out, too busy to date. For others, we have come across people in our lives, experiences, memories that, despite our best efforts, loved us, fought for us. But we remained too focused on fearing loss. We somehow time traveled into the future and forced ourselves to put together the pieces of a loss that had not even occurred yet.

And to “protect ourselves”, we latched onto made up “red flags”. We looked past the positives and anchored to the negatives that “proved us right”. Each time they fought to love us, we fought even harder to keep them at a distance. We found any detail, any insignificant detail to sabotage. How do I know? Well, hi, my name is Tony, and I am a Master Sabotager. It has been two days since my last sabotage.

But it does not always have to be that way. Sure, fear will remain. Anxiety will always speak up. Sadness and the dread will churn on. But loss is not a curse. It is not a reason to not gain. It is there to help us appreciate more! So join me in redefining our resolutions this year. To not let fear of losing hold us back. To commit ourselves to leaning into it, experiencing it but not letting it be our experience. Let’s use the fear, use the loss, use our pasts to remain focused on the now.

Be more present. Experience more of the now. Pick up the phone to text and call family and friends more. Make more plans. Attend more things. Try new things. Make new connections. Respect that those fears exist. Dread loss. Cry tears of sadness when someone or something we cared about is no longer in our lives. But instead of running from it, instead of protecting ourselves from having to feel, use it to stay and be present and enjoy the time we do have with them because of it.