“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful” is the opening line to a popular Christmas carol.
2009 has been a very rough year for a lot of us in an assortment of ways – financially, emotionally, physically….we have all been affected by the unavoidable shifts and changes in the world around us.
So as we meet here together for the last Monday in 2009, we may be tempted to carry that perspective into 2010. It is frightful outside, and it is easier, safer, better, unavoidable, to stay inside by the warm fire – instead of fighting for change. Well, yes it is. But does it work – and will it help us to say no to the fears and doubts that keep us feeling small and stuck and instead say YES to the life we really want and dream of living in 2010?
Don’t get me wrong – there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying a cozy warm fire, especially if you are surrounded by supportive loved ones and some hot eggnog or spiced cider. But we can’t make it into a lifestyle. There is always something that we can do now to change our circumstances and move in the direction of our dreams. We may not have power we might wish for to transform our outer environment, but we always retain the power to change the world within ourselves for the better.
To help us remember this as the New Year draws closer, we need to acknowledge now that 2010 will have its frightful days too. Some days we will be very tempted to stoke the fire, crawl back onto the couch, put off until tomorrow what we should have dealt with yesterday and still could today.
Acknowledging this, we may even now be considering what New Year’s Resolutions we want to make on January 1, 2010. But this may not be the approach that serves us best in saying “no” to what didn’t work for us in 2009 and YES to our ability to explore what does work in 2010.
The problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that they lack perspective –as do we when we are making them. For instance, we forget that they are year-long resolutions, just as full of ups-and-downs as any year will be, and only achievable over time. Resolutions rarely factor in the small, daily steps we need to get from here to there. They live in giant leaps – leaps which more often than not prove to be neither possible nor safe to attempt. Finally, resolutions often address our determination to change our outer circumstances, rather than focusing on the only place where we can ever hope to change anything – inside ourselves.
So this year, I would like to suggest that we forgo the traditional New Year’s resolutions in favor of New Year’s intentions. Intention, unlike resolution, is flexible. Moreover, intention is gentle, recognizing that there is a bigger picture that adds up over time if we just stick with our intention for long enough. Intentions are also relational – recognizing that the good of each individual is only achievable by seeking not just our own good, but the good of those around us as well. Most importantly, intentions come from deep within us, forcing us to dig down underneath concrete goals like “get a new job”, “eat healthier”, or “fix the problems in a relationship” to find what stands in between us and our ability to achieve our heart-held goals.
So now, start thinking about the intentions you wish to pay attention to in your new year. Are you worried about cherished relationships? Ask yourself what you can do to better cherish yourself so that you will have more to offer to cherished others as well. Do you long for greater equanimity in the face of situational difficulties? What can you do to identify what evokes feelings of peace within yourself, and include those activities in your daily schedule? Are you seeking financial stability? Maybe it is time to end the harsh inner criticism you have been feeding yourself in favor of simply asking for help to better understand and change your financial picture.
At Southlake Counseling, we are excited to see what the New Year will bring! We have been privileged over the last two decades to witness countless individuals’ inner transformations – transformations that have led to amazing outer shifts as well. Do you need help forming intentions and figuring out how to bring your dreams into reality? Are you still grappling with the fear, hesitation, and doubt that a hard economic year engenders in us all? Do you know that 2010 must be different, but are just not sure how to make the changes you dream of? Contact us at www.southlakecounseling.com today. Together, we can help you say “no” to self-limiting thoughts and behavior patterns and YES to your own limitless possibilities for 2010!