This is the time of year that most people begin to formulate their New Year resolutions. However, before we can add something to our lives, it is a good idea to get rid of something that no longer serves us to create space, and I’m not necessarily suggesting tangible, physical items, although the idea also applies to such an effort.
What I am suggesting during this last month of 2022 is to consider what might you release that drains your energy, so that you might invite in something that stokes your fire and energizes you to get up every morning. Like the trees that shed their leaves in the winter to create space for the new life that will come in the spring, we too might need to shed something old to make room for the new.
Below are some intention-setting ideas to support you in creating some mental or emotional space in your mind-body, fertilizing the soil of creation for the new year. It is my hope you will consider exploring one or more ideas and watch what blossoms in your garden!
- Take Stock. Consider identifying and then writing about the biggest lesson you learned this year and what it has taught you. Explore how the learnings have perhaps changed your way of being or your world view. Have these learnings brought you more inner peace or anxiety? If the lesson brought you anxiety, ask yourself why that might be and then identify how anxiety serves you. Does it protect you from something? Our emotions serve to inform us, if we simply give them time and space to express themselves. Befriend your powerful emotions and then let them guide you when making decisions in the new year. Once we befriend them, allow their expression and understand how they serve us, our emotions become tools in our tool kit for staying true to our authentic self, freeing up space for us to take up more space in the world!
- Gratitude. Perhaps writing down what and who you are grateful for in your life, and don’t forget to include yourself on this list! Can you identify 3 aspects of yourself that you are grateful for and why? Let the gratitude you feel be another guide when considering options in the new year.
- Support. Although independence is an idealized ideal in our culture, most, if not all, of us accomplish life with the support of others. Think about the people that you might have turned to for support this past year. Who might have brought comfort, acceptance, and warmth to your heart? Let their support remind you that you are not alone in this world, that humans are interdependent beings, and it is okay to not be okay and ask for help. Let this sense of interconnectedness be one of your guides as you move into the new year as we collectively release the false belief that we must pull ourselves up from our own bootstraps when we are down.
- Giving. Most of us are taught to give to others, whether it is our time, compassion, or care, which can make us feel good or resentful when all we do is give to others. We are not taught to give to ourselves and instead are told we are being selfish if we ask for what it is we need or want. Consider journaling about what you were taught about taking care of yourself, perhaps by the role models in your lives or your family culture, so you can weed your garden of any beliefs around self-care being selfish. Self-care is mission critical and when we can provide it to ourselves (without guilt or justification), it creates space and allows us to move about our lives with more energy. Can you identify ways you gave to yourself (in the name of self-care) this past year? How were you able to do so? Let the self-care steps you took this year lead you to more next year!
- Compassion. As many of you have heard me say (more than once, I know), giving yourself compassion is the antidote to all that ails what being human entails. Again, self compassion is not something taught to us, but it definitely is something we can learn if we understand that it will create space in our minds and bodies, freeing up our motivational energy to move forward with our dreams and aspirations in the new year. Perhaps contemplate an experience from this past year when you experienced suffering (maybe you experienced a conflict with someone you care about, or did not succeed in something you wanted, or were physically ill). Notice how you feel when you think of your suffering. How does your heart feel? Now ask yourself, “What did I need in that moment?” Perhaps you needed comfort, soothing, or validation. Try offering yourself what it is you needed, like you were offering it to a friend. This takes practice, so click here if you are interested in listening to some guided self compassion meditations offered by Dr. Kristen Neff, a leading researcher on the transformative effects of self compassion.
As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you. Please send me an email at email@example.com to share!