Looking Back

What were things like before?

What has changed?

These questions are often helpful when working with someone trying to maintain behavior change. Looking back in time can help a person reflect on the positives of what they have achieved and the benefits of change.

What defines life before and life after? For many of us, we have a flashbulb memory of the moment things changed for us this year. A line was quickly drawn between the time before the pandemic and the new period we found ourselves in.

What were things like before?

What has changed?

I’ve been thinking about these questions as I reflect on the past year. It’s been a year of change – some good, some not so good. It’s easy enough to think of what was lost: the trips that were cancelled, the gatherings that weren’t possible, the missed opportunities. Yet, this year also created space for some good.

For me, I’ve started exercising more consistently. And every day, between Zoom calls in my office, I get to see my girls skipping by between their online classes to wave or give me a quick hug. Rather than taking trips outside our home state of Arizona, our family has acted like local tourists, going on weekend hikes and enjoying picnics in grassy parks. Even though our calendar seemed emptier than ever this year, without trips and swim classes and birthday parties and events, as I look back, the days were full and the time was spent well.

So, now I pose some questions to you:

What are the positive differences between the person you were a year ago and the person you are today?

What unexpected good came from this year?

As we prepare to say goodbye to 2020, what are you thankful for this year?

As you think about how things changed, I challenge you to answer these questions and reflect on what the year has unexpectedly created space for, given and strengthened in you. This is not meant to minimize the bad that has affected so many – it’s only to recognize that there have been moments of good, and perhaps a few things you want to hold on to as you go into the new year.

Happy 2021.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.