Every year it seems there are more calls to improve, resolve, set goals, don’t set goals but set intentions, practice constant improvement, etc., and more pressure to make this year unbelievably good.
For many of us, this calendar-driven fresh start is exciting. Sometimes. But it also adds stress.
And now, 20-something days into 2018, many of us are finding we are not going to the gym every day, not working towards those goals, not thinner, happier, less anxious or less depressed, and not farther along our project of self improvement.
In therapy we pay attention to the needs that are emerging. What is emerging for you around any goals or intentions you set for this year? Are you falling behind? Do you need to work harder?
How about balancing the work harder, do more approach with some gentleness.
Maybe we could take a breath and relax.
I’ll admit, this might be the advice I most need to hear right now. But I suspect that I’m not the only one, certainly here in New York City where I live and work.
When people come into therapy with me, they have a problem they want to solve or an issue in their life where they want to make big change. The yearning to do better is like a life-affirming yoga pose, stretching and strengthening and supporting us and it can be wonderful to experience both inside and out. One of the reasons I love my work is to be privileged to hear people’s deepest aspirations and to walk with them as they take steps to make them real.
But leaping into change, like throwing yourself into a difficult yoga pose without warming up or developing a connection with yourself is difficult, uncomfortable and might even be harmful.
In my practice I have found that change happens more easily, naturally and joyfully when we really know where we are and what we are doing now.
One of American Buddhist nun’s Pema Chodron’s books is entitled Start where you are.
What if you started where you are, right now?
What if, instead of pushing to be somewhere else (i.e. get to that goal, now) you let yourself feel where you are. Where you actually are in space, and how your body meets the surfaces that hold it up, how you are breathing in and out. Who you are with, and how they affect you, or who you are holding with you in your mind and body who might not actually be there with you in reality. How am I affecting you, as you read these words? Will you take a moment to drop into the stream of experience and feel what is happening, or read on and feel some kind of way about my suggestion and your response?
And then, what if you spent some time considering a change you want to make or a goal you want to achieve or an intention you want to nourish this year from a place of being with yourself just right exactly where you are now, breathing in and breathing out and reading these words, or pausing to feel. How is that different?
If you are in therapy, then you are probably benefiting from having someone to help you remember again and again to pause and feel. It is amazing the insights that come up when we balance the doing with being, the acting with feeling, and our moving into the world with sitting back and feeling ourselves.
If you could use more of this to support you in your hopes, dreams and wishes for 2018 and you are interested in psychotherapy as a way to access this, feel free to get in touch with me for a brief consultation.
To a happy, healthy, and wise 2018 for all of us.