New Years beckons change and with it, new hope. But how do we make it last??
Transition times, like New Years, are often times of introspection. We take stock of where we are, where we have come and where we want to go. And this self reflection is really important. The more we know about who we are and what drives our feelings and behaviors, the more we can create a life that feels pleasing to our soul. So much research shows the importance of setting goals for yourself and the best goals are accompanied by a clear understanding of yourself.
The problem is that what traditionally comes out of this introspection at New Years are resolutions, which are often well intentioned but self critical and punitive. We see a perceived shortcoming and instead of treating ourselves kindly, we resolve to take (or avoid) some action to fix it. And rarely do these resolutions result in the lasting change we hope for, which leaves us feeling that we have failed ourselves (cue more self criticism).
I know I am probably not the first person to tell you that resolutions don't tend to create lasting change. And I know for those of you who have been with us a while, this isn't the first time I'm saying this either. So then where does this leave us? Self reflection is good. Having a clear direction in life is good. But trying to change ourselves to get there doesn't work? What then???
Well, the answer is both simple and a little complex so bear with me. Lasting change is possible. People grow and change all the time. The trick is that the change has to come from us becoming more of who we are. It has to come from clearing the blocks that get in the way of us being more authentically ourselves. It cannot come from us trying, efforting if you will, to make ourselves different.
Last change is rooted in self compassion. When we complete our self reflection from the perspective of compassion we are able to see ourselves more clearly. Because we aren't wounding ourselves again with our self criticism when we see something we don't like, we are able to tolerate seeing the truth of what is (aka we are able to practice compassionate accepting awareness of the truth of our present moment...sound familiar?).
When we are able to compassionately see the truth of where we currently are, we are better able to see what lies between where we are now and where we want to be. And when we are able to hold those blocks compassionately, they tend to dissolve, allowing ourselves to step into the places we want to be. And, for the things we cannot change, this same practice allows us to feel differently about ourselves and those things so that they become more tolerable. It's really a win-win.
I'll walk you through it again. The trick is to:
- honestly and kindly see the truth about where we are,
- know where we want to go and have those goals be aligned with our higher truth,
- allow ourselves to feel whatever feelings we feel about it all without trying to change them (no Mr./Ms./Mx. Fix-it needed!),
- get curious about where those feelings come from (aka what beliefs generated them),
- practice that same compassionate accepting awareness around the truth that we have been believing the belief, however misguided we may feel it is now,
- exercise that same compassionate inquiry to see if that belief is aligned with our higher truth (this tells us if the belief needs to shift or if we need to practice compassionate accepting awareness about the situation in which we find ourselves),
- become aware of what we would like to believe instead, and
- carry out whatever action feels aligned with this new understanding of ourselves.
I know it sounds a little kooky but the reality is that if we dedicate ourselves to going through this process then the changes we seek (assuming they are actually aligned with our higher self) will happen.
Sound too hard to learn? Fear not, this process is what we teach in our flagship class, Taming the Bear: Taking the bite out of stress. And (not) coincidentally, we have a new cohort starting this coming week with the first live call on Thursday, January 7th. We like harnessing the energy of self reflection and change that occurs at the beginning of the year to kick off the class. The class is informative and highly experiential so that by the time the class is over, you not only understand these ideas intellectually but you also are embodying the practice in your day to day life.
So if you want my advice on New Year's Resolutions, I'd say scrap them and come join us for Taming the Bear. But seriously, why not put your time and energy into something that will allow you to create the change you seek without burying yourself in self criticism and shame?
Taming the Bear is a 12 week class designed to teach emotional intelligence and a concrete method for identifying and changing the limiting beliefs that keep you stuck in painful and unproductive patterns. Practicing the tools we teach increases emotional regulation and resilience to life's difficult moments. The curriculum is based on the practice of cultivating the capacity to witness yourself and your life with self compassion and acceptance. These skills build the ability to see and hold the truth of your current moment, whatever the roots and however great the discomfort. This in turn allows you to shift how you see the world, and thus, how the world feels to you. After taking this class, students are able to bring their best self to their work, relationships, and perhaps most importantly, to how they engage with themselves. Changing your limiting beliefs frees you up to respond to life instead of continually reacting out of old patterns. You can create a life that honors your values and supports your needs. In short, you are able to shift out of survival mode and live life with greater confidence, compassion, and conviction. Learn more at www.the7tools.com/tamingthebear