January, 2014 Happy New Year everyone! When the clock strikes midnight on the first day of the brand new year it often brings with it not only confetti, cheers and celebrations but also thoughts of new beginnings and change. What are your hopes for 2014? Are you someone who sets out to challenge yourself with a New Year’s resolution each year? Do you usually decide last minute to focus on something you want to accomplish in the upcoming year? Do you find yourself critical of where you are now and unsure of how to get where you want to be? Are you regretting some of your actions in the past year and wondering how to make amends this year? Are you celebrating the successes and challenges you faced in 2013? Whatever your resolutions may (or may not) be, I encourage you to slow down and consider if your resolutions for 2014 are authentic to you. Are your hopes true to your needs and wants? I often ask my clients to consider letting go of what others think, avoid “people-pleasing” behaviours and instead focus on what you feel is important, inspiring and fulfilling to you. Brené Brown, Social Worker and author of the book, ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’, defines authenticity as “letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are”. I think this is a wonderful definition of authenticity especially when it comes to setting goals that embrace who we are and what we have to offer today. In considering how we can move forward in the new year and embrace and encourage change, we have to allow ourselves the permission to be true to ourselves - to be authentic in our wants and needs. I encourage you to honestly consider your values, strengths, and accomplishments and use those to propel you in the direction you want to go. Embrace your positive qualities, focus on your authentic self and use this time to develop resolutions that build on what you already possess. Think of how much easier it will be for you to face any challenges or setbacks along the road towards your goals when you are already aware of the skills and strengths that helped to get you to where you are today. After all, building on all the things you already have is much easier than starting from scratch. Experiment, give it a try, consider all the wonderful qualities you already possess, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done as being true to yourself now will help you to reach your goals for where you hope to be tomorrow. Brené Brown also did a TEDx Talk about vulnerability, shame and being true to yourself (all combined with some humor). Check it out here: My best wishes for a year full of health, happiness, and trying your best to challenge yourself while embracing your strengths- the possibilities are endless! psychotherapy st clair west forest hill toronto By Megan Rafuse, Psychotherapist