Ask Golden Willow

Always a good day to take personal inventory


Dear Ted: I am a 16-year-old from Taos High, and I was listening to some people at a New Year's party, and they were talking about doing their inventory, and I could tell they were talking about looking within themselves. I hadn't heard this term, but I could tell it was a common term and embarrassingly, I ask if you could explain taking one's inventory? Thanks, Buford

Dear Buford, Thanks for asking. Your question is very timely as we step into 2018. It is sad that asking a question becomes a difficult thing because societal pressure tells us that we are supposed to know everything. This can undermine conversations and the ability to be curious.

Yes, taking one's inventory is about looking into your behaviors, thoughts and actions to see what is useful and what is not. In recovery programs, when you take your inventory, it is similar to cleaning out your refrigerator: it is important to open the doors, search around and make sure that the food you have is not spoiled and still fresh. Anything that is spoiling should be removed.

Similarly, a personal inventory is taking note of your internal thoughts, processes and your psyche to see what is serving you and what needs to be cleaned out. This happens within your unconscious and conscious thinking processes that influence your actions. There can be a lot of resistance to looking within as you may not like everything you find and may have to change your actions, habits and thinking processes.

This may include how much time you think negatively, judge or blame others, manipulate situations, rationalize actions that may be damaging to yourself or others, or where you may not have good intentions. You might look at your relationships with loved ones, how you take relationships for granted and forget to be grateful that someone is in your life. Possibly you focus on what someone didn't do for you, forgetting to appreciate their importance in your life. These are only a few of the areas that you may wish to become conscious of to improve yourself as well as have a positive impact on those around you.

Doing your inventory is also the practice of looking within and finding your strengths that are healthy for you and those you want to nurture, allowing you to shine, think and grow in healthy productive ways. This could be helping others, or having gratitude for yourself and what you have. Taking time to do your inventory and change aspects of your life that do not serve you, while nurturing the positive actions, will allow you to reach your full potential. This is an act of a bravery and conscious willingness to change and grow.

Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Ted Wiard, LPCC, CGC, Founder of Golden Willow Retreat at (575) 776-2024 or

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