08th Jan 2020

What does New Year mean to you?

By Ruth Smallacombe

As part of our “New Year, New Start” series of blogs, here is our second piece in which Ruth Smallacombe, a senior accredited mediator and counsellor, practice consultant and trainer of mediators, lawyers and therapists at Family Law in Partnership discusses what the New Year means for individuals, particularly those already at a stressful point in their lives.

It’s 2020 and another New Year…and another blog!

What does New Year mean to you?

At this time of year, you can’t turn on the TV or open a magazine without being told how to reach your goals/change your life/job/relationship/body weight etc etc and somehow be a ‘better’ version of yourself. They’re often accompanied by images of successful happy beautiful people who look as though they’ve made it already! I find it all rather too much pressure and on occasion somewhat counterproductive. Our internal ‘self talk’ is sadly often negative and frequently contains the ‘rules’ which tell us all things we ought or ought not to be doing, or the things we’re useless at doing….its hard sometimes not to feel a failure before you even start trying to make changes.

As I support people experiencing some sort of relationship or family breakdown, I’m very conscious that I’m dealing with one of the most stressful periods in people’s lives; it can rock the foundation of our lives and eat away at our idea of who we thought we were. Not surprisingly, many are struggling, whether that’s with the emotions, the practicalities, the finances, the children, the ex, or all of them and more. Whatever the situation, it’s a often a time of change and transition, as is the New Year.

One of my clients who’s facing the uncertainty of significant changes to his situation in the future, describes his feelings:

‘‘I’m not a fan of New Year at the best of times but there was part of me that wanted to hibernate more than usual from the world and emerge when all the celebrations were over. This new year is more daunting than ever. A vast expanse of unknown lies ahead of me. In those moments of panic and fear when it all looks so overwhelming, I try to tell myself that this time next year the worst will be over, I will finally be in control of my life and I will know where I stand. Giving myself occasional pep talks helps. I constantly remind myself to take each day at a time…that way the future seems more manageable and less overwhelming.’’

Although he perhaps felt more tempted to hide away, my client reconnected with old friends over Christmas and New Year and found them a tremendous comfort.

It’s worth contemplating, maybe making a list of some of the things (and people) which sustain us and trying to limit or keep those which don’t, at bay. Where we find some comfort, a reminder of who we still are and a ray of hope for the future, is likely to be so different for each person….think about what might work for you, no matter how small or strange….friends? health? cooking? walking? helping other people? 2 minutes of breathing? time for yourself? My comforts over time have included collecting words…phrases for books which I’m never going to write, sayings which give some hope, random acts of kindness and attending a laughter workshop when I felt more like crying.

Whichever end of the relationship breakdown you’re at and no matter how we try and package things, it’s a difficult time and it’s heading into the unknown. Some people help, some don’t. I hope I’m among the latter. I sadly can’t promise a magic cure nor a fast forward into the perfect new life, but rather an opportunity to talk without being without judged, an exploration of fears and some guidance and support in coping with the present and the future.

So it’s another New Year….don’t put yourself under extra stress and pressure but do try a few small steps, like my client did, even though you may not feel like it.

I hope you gain energy and confidence to face your changes in the New Year.

Ruth Smallacombe is a senior accredited mediator and counsellor, practice consultant and trainer of mediators, lawyers and therapists at Family Law in Partnership. She has over 30 years’ experience in family, mental health and human relations, both in the public and private sectors.

“Relationship breakdown affects individuals on an emotional, practical and financial level and often has a major impact on children. People are faced with the most difficult issues and decisions at a time when they feel least well equipped to deal with them. I help people to focus on what is important, to understand and deal with the practicalities and problems and to rebuild their lives in a positive way” says Ruth. 

For further information or to speak to Ruth Smallacombe, contact our Mediation Coordinator Wendy Hoare at T: 020 7420 5000 or E: wh@flip.co.uk