New Year Reflections
January 01, 2023
Written by Joshua Altschule, Psy.D. || Co-Founder & Executive Director
Happy New Year to all of our parents, consultants, and community partners. This change of season has a tendency to bring about reflection for some. This isn’t or dare I say shouldn’t always be an entirely pleasant experience. I mean, don’t get me wrong, sometimes we have a victory in life that should be savored and left well alone. In my experience, this is less frequently the case and maybe a more gentle and accepting perspective is indicated. Until then, I am going to continue allowing moments of self-doubting curiosity and the tendency to see my flaws as my professor. After all, this is a professor that knows me best and isn’t afraid to pose the challenging questions.
What do I see? Well, firstly it’s been an amazing experience having worked in shelters, group homes, community mental health, to dreaming up a program that has come to fruition. Coupled with creating a thriving program with my close friend Jake, I couldn’t be more grateful for what life has afforded me. Perhaps I could have ended this blog here, sharing a picture of the beach, sunset, and friends sharing laughs, but that wouldn’t be authentic or true to my experience. Instead, I’m going to share more.
I also learned that my many years of academic failure and other lived experiences as a child led to a learned helplessness and inability to launch as a young adult. Eventually, I became frustrated by this position in life and was able to learn ways to channel that energy more productively. I learned to apply myself in ways that were much more difficult but way more effective. Slowly I changed the trajectory of my life through new habits and life practices. Later I used these same attributes to create Cornerstones.
Here comes the less comfortable part to share.
I drove myself and everyone with me very hard. It helped to create something beautiful and exceptional while also placing an unfair and inappropriate amount of pressure on myself and those around me. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I needed to prove myself, to myself, by creating a successful outcome. It was painful to experience, as external validation only begets the need for more of the same. Eventually, this burnt me and others out, and change needed to transpire. So a step back was needed, new systems put in place, and time to self-reflect.
It’s now two years later. A great deal of personal discovery has transpired that led to more self-acceptance and better relationships with basically everyone, but definitely those at Cornerstones. Here I thought my past therapy and being a psychologist revealed plenty but alas. I was humbled to have come to see this very big blind spot revealed. It’s led to an ease in life that is more loving and accepting which I am thankful to have.
I’ve learned that sometimes we tend to defend ourselves from fears and emotional injuries by constructing our lives, even in small ways, to avoid reexperiencing unresolved and uncomfortable emotions. That we can sometimes project onto others unfairly as a result of our internal experiences or put pressure on those we love to fulfill our expectations. Creating awareness in this regard can bring about the most fulfilling opportunity to show others and oneself the love and compassion that we all set out to have. In the end, I do love a beautiful seascape. But what I love most of all is when that gentle seascape follows a storm.