Lightening Up in the New Year
I've never been one for New Year's resolutions. Instead I say, "If I'm going to resolve to do something, I'll just do it. Why wait around for some date on the calendar?" But this year, I'll admit to a sense of inspiration around joining in on this collective endeavor.
It's as a client said to me during the first session of the year, "It feels fresh. Not like I haven't worked to be where I am, but something about the New Year just feels light."
She's right, in so many ways.
For one, there's the fact that since the solstice on December 21, the days are getting longer. We are literally experiencing more light.
Then, there's the levity of having the holidays behind us. This time of year signifies different things to us all; but whether the holiday season was mostly happy or hard, there is something undeniably different in the energy of a new year. Consider the accessibility of the Post Office if you're having trouble agreeing with me.
Aside from holidays, the end of the year also invites looking backward, reflecting over the decisions and progress we've made. This can feel heavy, especially if we're not where we thought we'd be, or we've forgotten to acknowledge how far we've come.
In contrast, the New Year comes with all kind of potentiality. As my client said, if feels"fresh and light."But before we go there, let's take a moment to hear the rest of what she said:
"... It's not like I haven't worked to get here."
In other words, I have worked to get here.
And we all have. I guarantee that. No matter how we may feel about the results, there was work involved in what it took to get to the end of 2018. Even binge-watching Netflix requires the mental labor of denying that little voice telling us not to. (For the sake of mental health, I hope your little voice is still and small, not critical and demeaning. But hey! If it's the latter, there's help for that...).
Here's the thing:
If we don't pause to challenge the not-so-nice little voices - to set down the burden of last year, step back, hands on hips and say, "Woah. I carried all THAT?!" then we may be doing a real disservice to this beautiful blank slate of a brand new year. We can too easily get caught up in the weeds of all that wasn't even as we're doing our best to move ahead into the wide open space of what is and will be...
Let me put this another way:
"What if we didn't base our resolutions on our failures, but on our successes?" Let's try it out. Let's pretend that our 2019 resolution is to remember peoples' birthdays! Chances are, this resolution emerged out of forgetting peoples' birthdays, which, chances are, felt sh**ty. Maybe, likely even, a little shameful.
So, feeling fresh and well-intentioned, we decide to make a resolution from there:
"I resolve to remember the birthdays of all my close family and friends."
Sounds good, right?
Now listen carefully to what the subtext might be, if you're coming from a place of "I always forget":
"I resolve to remember birthdays... Because I forgot so many of them last year, and that felt sh**ty. It felt even worse when those same people I forgot to call on their birthdays called me on mine! I am a terrible friend/daughter/etc. I always do this kind of thing. I'll probably always forget birthdays.
So, you see how we start out with resolve, move almost immediately into the bad feeling that kick-started the resolve, and we're right back in the mindset that caused all the said sh**ty feelings in the first place. No good, if you ask me.
Now, let's try the other approach I'm suggesting. Let's imagine that in making our 2019 resolution to contact family/friends on their birthdays, we start by remembering that one time when we actually did call the person the moment we thought to, instead of saying to ourselves, "Oh! It's Uncle Larry's birthday! I'll call him later..."
Let's see how the subtext checks out in this case:
I resolve to remember birthdays ... and I am doing so because I feel so good when I do! Ooo-ee, I cannot wait until the next birthday reminder I programmed into my phone pops up so I can experience the joy of my new resolution ...!
I may exaggerate, but you get my drift.
When we align with the good stuff, we get more of it. When we encourage ourselves from a place of belief rather than self-doubt, we're more motivated to keep going. Right?
I know it's easier said than done. So here's a tip for the road:
Share your resolution with someone you trust. They'll help keep you honest. Like yesterday, when I almost broke mine on day ONE! I just plum forgot I'd even made the darn thing. But a loved one reminded me, so thankfully I'm still in the black.
You may also note that I've come around on this whole New Year's resolution thing - though if I'm totally honest, I only made a January resolution for now. I figure February is as good a time as any to pause, reflect, and start again fresher and lighter. Some things may never change - but it doesn't mean it's not worth resolving to try.
Look forward to talking with you,