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What ‘if’ for 2020

By Dr Margaret Nakhid-Chatoor

How did situations and events go for you last year? Were you able to achieve all that you set out to do? What were some of the obstacles that prevented you from moving forward? Or were you your own biggest obstacle to fulfilling your desired goals?

In the poem ‘IF’, the poet Rudyard Kipling provides values that can guide us through the murky waters that threaten to overwhelm us at times: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you; if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.”

Those persons on the job or in your home who have made it their mission to be hateful towards you and spread lies, misrepresenting you at every turn, remember Kipling! Don’t deal in lies and don’t give way to hating. Do not bring yourself down to their weakened level. Be confident about the decisions that you make and take responsibility for those decisions.

People don’t even need to know your side of the story. Say a prayer for those unfortunate souls who in their misery, seem to delight in persecuting others. Be emotionally well!

I know that it has been difficult for many of us to continue to believe that life can offer us alternatives and hope, especially when 2019 was a real disappointment: failed relationships, unsuccessful job seeking, disappointment in friends who let you down, illness, death, losing a loved one, losing a home or a job, divorce, loneliness, lack of finances and many others.

Feelings of self-doubt, discomfort and struggle have been the companions of many of you but let go of these negatives and remember Kipling: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same”, then you can continue to move ahead with purpose.

Both your successes and your failures—triumphs and disasters—are two sides of the same coin, like love and hate. Embrace both, but do not dwell on either lest you become vain and bitter.

“Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build ‘em up with worn out tools.”  Have courage, pick yourself up and go again! Today and throughout this New Year is another chance to do things better and to do so with a lighter heart. Be emotionally well!

What about your health? Have you been struggling with decisions as regards a diet that never happened, or started proactive exercise strategies that have not progressed to any significant extent?

Take your mental and physical health to a higher level. If you can’t gym, then walk a mile on spot in your living room. Turn on the music and begin from there. Don’t buy foods that are not healthy for you with thoughts that the snacks are for ‘visitors’. You know very well that you will end up eating every single bag of chips, pretzels and ice cream by yourself, in front of the television or the computer.

Be steadfast in what you had planned to do. Remember Kipling: “Hold on when there is nothing in you except the Will which says…hold on”. Your health is important. Take your medication on time. Don’t give up even when you are your own worst critic! Be emotionally well!

Most important of all is the adage that time waits on no one. Last year we saw this in our society—time was no respecter of persons who had untimely deaths by homicide, accident or illness. We lost some of our loved ones in an instant!

So, if you work, work hard. If you sing, sing lustily. If you spend time with loved ones, caring for them and giving of your efforts and energies, do it with a grateful heart.

Increase your emotional resilience and keep your virtue, despite all those who attempt to sway you to misguided deeds or influence your values and morals. And remember Kipling: “If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run” …then do it, because when that minute is up, it is gone forever. Let persons know that you love them.

What are you waiting for? Use every minute of your time in this New Year to the best and fullest of your mental capabilities. Know who you are, what you stand for, and the values that you embrace.

Let persons see your sense of worth and pass these beliefs and goals on to others and to the children. Do the right thing. By God’s grace, you will be emotionally well. Happy New Year 2020!

Dr Nakhid-Chatoor is a clinical and educational psychologist, and President of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Psychologists (TTAP).