We may feel relieved that 2020 is finally over but how are we going to move forward into 2021 when it holds just as much uncertainty? We’re going to do it by strengthening some important skills that will boost our resilience — the quality that enables us to bounce back when life knocks us off balance.
Six Skills to Strengthen in 2021
Self-care: If you’re like most grandmas, life revolves around your precious grandchildren and helping your children any way you can, sometimes sacrificing your own care. Remember the old adage: put on your own oxygen mask before you put a mask on the child sitting next to you. If you don’t replenish yourself, you won’t be of benefit to anyone else. Whether you soak in a bath, take a walk in the woods, read a good book, have coffee with a friend or binge-watch your favorite show, make sure you take some time for yourself.
Self-awareness: Being conscious of our thoughts and actions enables us to make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. Self-awareness also helps us recognize what we’re good at and what we need to improve.
Patience: Patience is a crucial factor in whether we have a satisfying life. Patience gives us self-control — the capacity to stop and be in the present moment where we can make wise choices. M.J. Ryan, the author of The Power of Patience, writes: Love and patience are two intertwining strands, like the DNA that is the foundation of human life. With love, we can be patient — with ourselves, with others, with life itself. With patience, we can love — ourselves, other people, and the mysterious, awe-inspiring journey of life. Each strand informs and supports the other, each inevitably teaches about the other.
Curiosity: Curiosity has been linked with psychological, emotional, social, and even health benefits. The urge to explore and learn new things is an important survival skill and actually can make us feel happier. Curiosity can expand our empathy by making us better able to understand people with different experiences and worldviews than our own. Demonstrating curiosity towards others is a great way to build closeness with them.
Empathy: The most important lesson I’ve learned in my 17 years as a grandma is to have empathy for our grandchildren’s parents. Pay attention and verbally acknowledge their hard work. Appreciate them and try to understand all that they face as modern parents. They don’t want our advice or solutions; they want us to hear what they’re saying and feel what they’re experiencing. Just saying “that must be hard for you” can be a magical phrase to a stressed-out mom or dad.
Forgiveness: Dr. Fred Luskin, author of Forgive for Good, spoke to our GaGa Sisterhood in 2013 and I still remember his words: forgiveness brings an almost divine peace. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or denying that painful things occurred. It’s the powerful assertion that bad things will not ruin your today even though they may have spoiled your past. Forgiving ourselves or another person reduces our stress and enables us to move on and feel compassion again.
What’s important to remember as we strengthen these skills is to apply them to ourselves first. A big part of self-care is self-compassion — be kind to yourself when you mess up. Have empathy for yourself and forgive yourself. That’s the only way we’re going to thrive during these challenging times.
What skills do YOU plan to strengthen in 2021? Please share them in the comment box.