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Finding the Silver Linings of 2020 As You Look Toward a Better 2021 

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4 ways to change your perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic and other life challenges as opportunities for emotional growth.

For all of us, 2020 has been a year like no other. At best, the pandemic has been personally challenging as we’ve struggled to juggle work, childcare, personal relationships, household chores and more. Sadly, for too many, there’s been sickness, loss of financial security, and the emotional hardship of not seeing adult children or grandchildren for months on end. At worst, it’s meant the death of loved ones.

But life’s challenges can also be opportunities for emotional growth. Living through hardships requires us to flex our grit and resiliency muscles. This makes us stronger and more equipped to handle the next crisis of life will eventually throw at us.

Difficulties can also be a signal that you should be taking stock of your life. What changes need to be made to improve your life? Perhaps it’s time to recommit yourself to important relationships and personal goals that otherwise might’ve been neglected or abandoned. As you celebrate the start of 2021 in hopes that you can soon resume your pre-pandemic life, here are a few ways to help you reflect on how you’ve grown and adapted during an extraordinary time.

Identify your strengths.

No one hopes for a crisis to jumpstart their emotional growth. But that’s life. It’s filled with twists and turns— bad and good, bitter and sweet. Think back to a difficult time or circumstance. How did you manage to live through it? What new ways of thinking and behaving did you take away from it?

Commit to implementing the behaviors or thoughts that helped you ride the wave of difficult emotions throughout 2020.

Whether it was meditation, exercise, spending time with a pet, positive self-talk, healthy forms of distraction or all of the above, make it part of your routine in 2021.

Continue to value the people, things and traditions that are important to you.

For some, this might involve ending unhealthy relationships or destructive habits that take precious energy away from the people and things we care about most.

Internalize the fact you really are stronger than you realize.

When facing inevitable future challenges, remind yourself that you’ve lived through this incredibly trying year. Whatever the future holds, you can do it again.

Dr. Paula Durlofsky is a psychologist, blogger and author of Logged in and Stressed out.


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