It is that time of year where people start to look back on their lives and freak out. They have managed to survive the holiday season thus far and begin to focus on next year. The lists come out of all the things that were not done, all the things to do, and all the things that should be important but that won’t make it to any real list anyway.
You hear it time and time again… resolutions. Then two weeks or two months later… you hear about how they are never kept. I won’t go into why making big grand statements about change don’t work, at least not in this post. But I will say this much, we change as we grow and that isn’t just about an idea, it is about integration. You can wish and hope all day long for something to change, but if you are not truly ready to deal with the consequences (and yes there are scary realities to change even in a positive direction) then it just isn’t going to happen.
So back on to what you can do in 2010. Here is an idea… how about working on your relationships? I know I know… you don’t have the time, the energy, or the desire. But I assure you, if you are devoting time to how you can feel differently about yourself or strengthening the bonds around you, you WILL feel better. We spend an amazing amount of time focusing on the negative that simply seeing one thing positive within ourselves and others, is already a huge shift.
You want to revolutionize your world? Okay…. maybe that is too grand a statement… sounds almost like a resolution.. How about just making a small step towards not putting so many horrible thoughts in your head about yourself or your loved ones? That is workable …. at least the theory is. But how do we really make change with such a large idea? I’m so glad you asked!
Here is a realistic how-to for growing your relationship with yourself or others:
1) Become aware of all the negative things you are saying inside your head. You will be shocked. Write them down with little check marks if you want. It will blow your mind.
2) Once you realize your negative autopilot thought process, start working on actively stopping. In the middle of a negative thought, say “STOP” inside your head our out loud. This changes the cognitive mechanism that is on default. Even if you then still think the thought, you will already started a skill set to change the process.
3) After you have caught yourself in the act, work on some radical acceptance. You don’t have to give up all the negativity cold turkey. However, letting the feelings/thoughts float around as something without impact goes a long way. For instance, if you think “I am stupid” then you stop yourself, and you can allow the thought not to have an impact. You simply have a feeling and thought that is negative but it does not carry weight. It can float past you as the Taoist and Buddhist tend to say “Like leaves on a river they move along.”
4) Then the big moment has arrived. You are ready to start adding on some positivity. You pick something that actually resonantes within you. No choosing a word or feeling that is out of your scope. As with the example above with intellect you could say “I am working on building new levels of intelligience.” This doesn’t negate anything, nor does it put you in a category that isn’t real. You are in fact working on this, by the shear nature of doing these steps.
5) Finally, when you are ready you can really push yourself. *dramatic music* You can start saying positive statements outloud to yourself or others. I know… it sounds intense but work through this with me. You might start to see and feel yourself and others differently, once you geniunely feel some kindness. Using the idea above, someone might say “Wow, that was a really good idea.” You would respond with, “Thank you for saying that.” It sounds like such an easy response right? But when you are struggling with how you deal with yourself and others, it can be a process. You have just validated yourself, the other person’s feelings, and openly expressed appreciation for both.
So let’s look towards 2010 with realistic optimism that we can change ourselves with one thought, emotion, and action at a time. That there is space for us to feel a bit more secure in ourselves and with others. The theme of the new year will be — strength in relationships–.