Bringing 2020 Home

By Aliza Shapiro, LCSW

The last few weeks of 2020 are officially upon us, and as we mark off the remaining calendar days we may notice ourselves starting to recount and reflect on what we’ve made of this completely unprecedented year. 2020 has not been what anyone expected! Many of us were forced to put personal, familial, and professional aspirations on the sidelines as we struggled to stay connected, healthy, protected, and sane. As a result things we had hoped to achieve fell by the wayside, and some are lamenting the lost opportunities. As the year winds to an end, we can “bring 2020 home” by focusing once more on the goals that we originally had, and realizing in hindsight that we may have accomplished more than we think. Here are a few life skills that many of us have picked up this year:

1. Improve the Moment
One advantage of 2020 is that we’ve have plenty of opportunity to practice Distress Tolerance. Tolerating distress is the capacity to be experience an ongoing (check), unexpected (check), crisis (check) that is out of one’s control (check) and cannot be dealt with immediately (check!). The key to tolerating this distress is to do so in a way that does not make the situation worse, but actually makes the situation better. Indeed, as we struggled this past year we turned to relaxation, prayer, focusing on one thing in the moment, self-encouragement, and rethinking situations (for example saying “this may be hard, but I can get through it,” instead of “this is hard, and I have no hope.”) Improving the moment during crisis is challenging, but we’ve now had plenty of practice which leaves us with an invaluable tool we can turn to long after the clock strikes 2021.

2. Chain Analysis
Our life events, bodies, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected. That’s why one of the greatest therapeutic skills we can learn is how to create a “chain analysis”, which involves identifying how these seemingly disparate aspects of life are linked together. This year, many links in our personal “chains” were continually impacted and even depleted. For example, at times we weren’t able to be as physically active as usual, which which may have impacted our mood, and subsequently our behaviors. Having gone through 2020, we have learned to pay more attention to these “chains.” We are also more aware of what is lacking in our own systems, which can help us make the changes necessary to find greater equilibrium, and live happy, healthy lives.

3. Making Meaning
When we go through a struggle, it feels hard. But, when we cannot see the purpose of that struggle, it feels impossible. Of course, none of us can truly know the reasons why struggled this past year, but many of us practiced finding meaning with difficult situations and managed to find greater motivation and strength to get through it in a new way. One of the most powerful ways we’ve found meaning is by thinking about our values, our choices, and our opportunities for growth. Many of us took the time to contemplate, journal about, and discuss the meaning and lessons learned in the challenges we have faced. This skill could leave us with a greater sense of accomplishment than any series of achievements.

4. Acceptance & Change
Finally, there were many moments this past year when we simply could stop painful emotions and events from coming our way. In many instances, we chose to accept our reality instead of fighting it, so that we could make the most of our circumstances. When we accepted the facts of the present, we did not choose to be passive or “giving up,” rather, we accepted reality so that we could then focus on change. When we look back at the year and accept the ways things did turn out, we can also look forward and commit ourselves to the goals and ideals that we can achieve in the valuable time that we still have left.

As we approach the last few weeks, let’s make the most of the time that we still have, and recognize the skill, growth, and accomplishment that we’ve already attained – even if things did not turn out as we expected. And of course, let’s keep in mind that although this year wasn’t what we asked for we can certainly come out stronger. After all, the best hindsight is 2020.

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The Way of Mastery is to break all the rules—but you have to know them perfectly before you can do this; otherwise you are not in a position to transcend them.


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Calmer in the Face of Hardship
I came to the Center for Anxiety for help in dealing with a family member who suffered from extreme anxiety. But I ended up getting a serious illness two months later and started having my own sessions. With the help of my therapist I got through my illness, learned to understand my habits that were making my major life stresses worse, learned to communicate better, taper my anger, and surprisingly I became more calmer even though my hardships in life worsened. Therapy is a lot of work and not easy, but nothing in life comes easy! I became a better and softer mom and (when I practice what I learned) and my kids and home are calmer and happier. I am still a work in progress and have more to work on, but I know I am on the right path. I wish I knew before how my communication style and anger were really impacting my life, how being softer you can accomplish way more then being harsh. I have been to other therapists in the past and I can hands down say that the Center for Anxiety’s approach is really effective. I have even referred a bunch of people to the Center and they have been really happy with the therapists and how much they really care for their patients.
I Tackled a Long List of Fears
When I first came to the Center for Anxiety, my list of anxieties/fears was long! I was scared of getting sick, getting stranded, driving, flying and more. With the help of my therapist, I immediately got to work and tackled every one of my fears. Now the world is open to me and I feel free! I can dream big and accomplish whatever I set my mind to! I am especially grateful that I was able to do all this without having to rely on medication. It was hard work – grueling at times! – but now I have the coping tools within me for life. In fact a family member recently said to me “You are awesome. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to because you don’t let fear stop you! ” Thank you Dr. Rosmarin and the Center for Anxiety staff for helping me get here. My fears no longer limit me and I love my life. Try it, it might turn your life around too!
Highly Skilled and Professional Treatment
When I sought treatment at the Center for Anxiety, the clinic was is in its incipient stages. However, by the time I successfully finished treatment, the Center for Anxiety grew and flourished into a world-class treatment center, offering cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment to countless individuals. The continued success of the Center for Anxiety comes as no surprise to me, with a team that contains such highly skilled professionals who display clinical acumen, empathy, and compassion. When I first entered treatment I was concerned that therapy would be similar to the experiences with past psychologists: a seemingly bottomless pit with no reductions in my anxiety symptoms, but was so relieved when I started to feel less anxious after only a handful of sessions. My therapist created a treatment plan that was tailored exactly to my needs and taught me practical skills to help me work through my anxiety that I still use and practice to this very day.
No More Panic
When I first came in, I was struggling with panic disorder and didn’t even know it, which only made dealing with it that much more difficult. After my first time sitting down with my therapist, however, I instantly started to gain perspective and look at the difficult situation in a different light. Our meetings helped me conquer the issue step by step and get my life back on track. I’d strongly recommend that anyone dealing with anxiety in a way that impacts their day to day life should visit the Center for Anxiety! I know it helped me tremendously.
Free of Obsessions
When I woke up one morning last June and didn’t want to get out of bed, I knew I needed help. The thought of getting through another day with all my anxieties, obsessions and rituals was just too overwhelming. After feeling stuck for years, I just couldn’t anymore. Thankfully, that’s when I found the Center for Anxiety. Dr. Rosmarin and his staff are experts at what they do, kind and professional. After just several weeks I accomplished my initial targets. The change I experienced in such a short amount of time was astounding that I stayed on for a while longer to work on more complex goals. I soon achieved those too. Now, I am free of my obsessions, know how to manage my anxiety, and love my life. My only regret: not having done this sooner. I wish I had known that you don’t have to wait to hit rock bottom to get help.
Depression Lifted
I’m 26 years old and I’ve been suffering from terrible depression for 7 years. In the throws of my sadness I literally wanted to die. Soon after starting therapy at the Center for Anxiety, my depression lifted. My suicidal thoughts began to dissipate. I remember the feeling that came over me as soon as the dark cloud above me left. It was the most liberating feeling I have ever experienced. I actually shouted to my friends, family and anyone nearby me “I’m Happy! I am Happy!” I felt free.
Over the course of four years I developed anxiety-like symptoms (tightness in chest, gut, back) that slowly but surely increased in duration and severity. The EXTREMELY uncomfortable nature of the symptoms notwithstanding, I still continued and managed to function. The effort required to do so, however, left me utterly drained. Having always been a very spiritual person I strongly felt that a course of therapy incorporating a spiritual component could potentially work well for me and decided to give the Center for Anxiety a try. Happily, I have achieved significant symptom reduction, tremendously improved emotional/mental health, and above all, Connection. Medication free. I’m no longer just existing, I’m LIVING. I’ve been given a second chance to become the unique human being that I was meant to be.
No More worries
I have wormed in healthcare for 36 years in many different settings, and I have been overwhelmingly satisfied with the Center for Anxiety. When staff says they are going to call, I get a call. From the first contact, I have been very impressed with the professionalism and efficiency. I had a situation and needed to have sessions more than once per week, and my clinicians worked out a schedule to accommodate my needs. I was astounded that they attended to me so quickly and effectively - they made my priority their priority. My clinicians were also excellent at what they do - they have a plan for me each session, and it's clear that they have thought in advance about each session, and that they are listening to what I say and observing what I do, even though our sessions have been conducted via Telehealth. Compassion is a quality that I have all too often found to be lacking in my experiences as a healthcare professional and patient, and this is not the case with the Center for Anxiety. Of all the websites I found on Google, I am so thankful that God guided my hand to yours.

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