You are enough.
New Year, New You? Tune into your heart space, and do not let any online platform, advert, or retailer convince you that you are not enough.
It is important to me that in each of my classes, students know that however they arrive at their practice, it is enough. That wherever they are in that moment, however they may feel, whatever they may be carrying, it is okay. That wherever their practice begins, it is ok. I want this principle to be true too for you, the reader. I also hope for this to be true when you wake up in the morning, or when you start a new week, a new month or a new year. However you arrive, it is ok.
Having goals, aspirations and hopes for ourselves is extremely important, and the turn of a new year definitely lends itself to the ‘new beginnings’ mind-set. However, it can be hard to move towards these goals effectively without first acknowledging and accepting where we are right now.
Walking through my city centre in early January I was bombarded with images, adverts and window displays, all trying their best to convince me that in order to start the year right I must have more, do more, and essentially, be more. A lot of these window displays showed poised mannequins in matching workout sets, towels draped round their necks with pretty dumbbells or yoga mats nestled under one arm and matching water bottles in the other. My Instagram account felt very much the same, with the addition of #newyearnewme. It led me to think about the countless New Year’s resolutions set at this time of this year and our consumer based societies’ willingness to prey on our vulnerabilities.
Setting resolutions can definitely be beneficial. If we have found ourselves caught in habitual cycles that no longer contribute to our higher good, it can be both liberating and empowering to work towards replacing these behaviours with something that better serves us. I also deeply believe in the strength of visualisations and our power to talk into existence the things we hope for. By imagining our resolution in action, or talking positively to those we love (and even to ourselves) about our intention for the New Year, we are far more likely to set it in motion. What I don't believe in, is the pressure to make big changes, long lists of things you will or will not do, or the need to buy into 'reboot, restart and remake' schemes fed to us by external sources.
So, today I am asking; can we allow ourselves to set our resolutions (or intentions) from a place of love, gratitude, self-acceptance and self-appreciation, rather than from a place of lacking, feelings of inadequacy or fear?
I recently came across an interesting article linking the success rate of our New Year’s resolutions and our internal dialogue, or ‘self stories’. Put simply, we all hold ‘stories’ about ourselves which in turn govern our behaviour. We have an idea, more or less, of who we are and what is important to us. These ideas form the ‘story’ about ourselves that (even without our conscious awareness) is operating at all times. The article suggests that in order to increase your chances of sticking to a resolution, you must first make it align with your ‘self story’. For example, if you hope to be more optimistic, try telling yourself (or editing your ‘self story’) to include the belief ‘I am an optimistic person’. This line of thought encompasses more love and self-appreciation than a belief such as ‘I’m so negative, I’ve really got to change. This year I won't complain!’. Instead, by consistently feeding yourself the belief you are positive, you are much more likely to experience the change you hope for, and it will feel better because it is in alignment with your new ‘self story’. When we act in accordance or alignment with who we believe we are, it feels good!
Another example, instead of ‘I’m really unfit and unhealthy, I really need to join the gym, take some classes, maybe start running…’ try telling the story of the person who appreciates their body, and makes time for self care. Perhaps you could try something like ‘I love myself enough to feed my body nourishing foods and exercise regularly’. These statements will be unique for each of us. Perhaps try a couple of your own. Keep it within a positive framework, and explore what comes up for you.
I’m not suggesting that this is easy, but I am implying there is no need for a ‘new you’. Take away the chore, take away the pressure to adhere to anyone’s standards but your own, and begin exactly where you are, with what you have. Try not to let the retail industry convince you ‘now is the time to change and you should do it in our matching gym set’. You do not need to do more, have more, or be more.
All you desire is already within you.
You are capable of achieving all that you hope for. But I invite you first to take a moment simply acknowledging and appreciating all that you are right here, right now. Then, carrying your appreciation with you, begin your journey by building upon those manageable, uplifting and sustainable beliefs. And (this may just be the most important part!) please, if for a moment you forget, you struggle, or you slip up… breathe. Be soft in your approach. Let yourself off the hook a little, this is your journey and you can restart it as many times as you like. You can restart with the turn of a new year, the turn of a month, the turn of a week, a day, or simply, with the turn of a new deep breath.
You are enough.
In his book, Redirect, Timothy Wilson describes how stories can contribute to changed behaviour long-term. One technique he researched was 'story-editing'.
1. Write out your existing story. Almost like a blurb you'd read on the back of a book, describing you. You can include qualities and ideas you believe make you who you are, and things that are important to you.
- Pay special attention to anything about the story that goes against your resolutions or intentions. E.g. if your goal is to learn to unplug a little more and lessen your stress, then write out a story that is realistic, that perhaps shows that it's hard for you to de-stress.
2. Now try re-writing your story. Create a new self-story. Tell the story of the desired way of being. Include statements that encompass the person you would like to see yourself becoming.
- E.g. include how you regularly take time for yourself to de-stress, perhaps you hope to achieve this by short walks in the park or meditating. This is entirely unique to you.
3. Return regularly to your story. Believe it to be true and try to act in accordance with your edited story. You can edit it as many times as you like to encompass qualities you hope to encourage, or experience more of in yourself.