As we welcome a new beginning, we can reflect on the emotional year that was 2020.This past year has invited us rediscover gratitude for the positive aspects in our lives. The slowing of the pace of life made many reassess exactly how we have been living and bringing our awareness to the aspects that neither support nor serve us well. While we count our losses, we can also appreciate the that we made it to the end of a year that was akin to riding a rollercoaster. In the face of the unknown there was also the gentle shift in harnessing our inner strength and resilience. Having to occupy that uncomfortable space of the unknown – we persevered as human beings. At times we may have fallen but we got back up and now we can look to a new year with the hope for a new beginning. With our inner strength and resilience carrying us into 2021, we can curiously begin to ponder are any changes we would like to make, and what would they be?
Some begin the new year with high expectations of resolutions and having revealed their ambitious plans eagerly inquired “What are you doing”? I always dreaded this question that I found laden with expectations I put on myself and those I perceived others had of me. I offered great feats that I had hoped to accomplish like learn a new language, take up running or vow to go to the gym three times a week! They never lasted and I explained away my failed resolutions citing my busy schedule, demands of personal life to name but a few. It has taken me quite a few years to understand the reasons why I could never really achieve these tasks I set myself. The answer now is obvious – none of them ever resonated with me. In order to change something in our life there must be meaning attached to that change. Small steady changes are the most effective. If the change has no capacity to stir us emotionally one way or another we cannot be invested in the change?
In helping us identify where we would like to make changes, we might need to do a self-check-in to determine what aspects or areas of our life might we like to see adjustments in. If you are unsure where to start it might help to think about it with equal amounts of curiosity and contemplation.
Here are some questions that might be helpful –
- What is the most pressing area of my life that I might like to see changes in?
- What aspects of this area are in/out of my control?
- Is the way that I am engaging with this area currently supporting me?
- If I could see a change in this area what would I like it to be?
- How would this change impact my life?
- If I do make this change what would those closest to me notice?
If you can identify an area that you would like to change, make a list of the changes that resonate with you and why. It is crucially important that the changes are achievable and realistic. Perhaps you want to make changes regarding a difficult relationship you have with someone, communicate better with others, redefine your boundaries, a change in career, a shift away from old negative cycles of thoughts, introduce more self-compassion or set aside some time in the day to meditate, go for a walk or read a chapter of a book. Many aspects in our lives are changeable and flexible and this can be achieved in a very measured, gentle, and paced manner.
Sometimes the idea of change can be scary, and it may feel overwhelming but the powerful act of acknowledging to yourself that it can happen by taking small steps or simply shifting a pattern of thought or behaviour can make it achievable. Mike Murdock once wrote that you will never change your life until you change something you do daily. I really love this approach of small and consistent. It does not need to happen all at once, the simple act of intentional small changes can lead to big shifts in our lives. Introduce the change slowly and reflect on the impact of it in a few weeks. Has it helped? Do I need to fine tune it a bit more to meet my needs? Have I felt a change in myself? How has this change supported me?
There is no doubt that – as many things in life – we as humans are forever a work in progress. There will be times when things do not go to plan and sometimes making the small adjustments can be really hard – and that’s okay. It perfectly human to have struggle and to tussle with the thoughts that tell us to give up. There may be occasions that the small changes we introduce can have a ripple effect. By this I mean that others can be reactive to your change – perhaps you would always have said yes to requests made by others and you are no longer saying yes to everything. It can take time not only for you to process your new way of being in the world but also others around you. This is an adjustment phase for you and them – this will pass.
Perhaps this year will be one where you decide to make small changes. It may be the year you decide to make no changes at all. What is infinitely pivotal is that any changes we make come from us choosing to make them to improve our wellbeing. When they resonate with us, they are attainable, realistic and something that we can build on.
As Robert Greene stated,
“Change may be alarming – often refreshing – even exhilarating”.
By Deirdre Wynne, Dancing Soul psychotherapist and counsellor
- Greene, R, goodreads.com/change Accessed 27/12/2020
- Murdock, M. goodreads.com/change Accessed 28/12/2020