Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CAUTION: Don't Do This in 2014

“We cannot change anything unless we accept it.” Carl Jung
Accepting fully who we are will bring us naturally into balance 
While the tradition of making a resolution in the new year is a secular practice primarily in the west, it is practiced all over the world and considered a positive practice. But this practice not only robs us of our power, it can stunt our growth and can actually be dangerous. In order to effect real change in the self, we must accept that part of us fully. Every single aspect of the self is there to inform us. If we try to expel our bad behaviors before we understand them, they will surely return and latch on more stubbornly.

Sitting with our pain will inform us of our story
If we sit with the pain of what we term bad behaviors, lack of reaching our goals, or other desires, we can learn from it. Sitting with our pain is simply letting it occur without judgment. For decades I struggled with an eating disorder. While I went to therapy and went back to my past, I had a mixed bag of success. I harshly judged the behavior while working tirelessly to change it, which proved fruitless. When I let myself sit in my pain by allowing the feelings to come without judgment, I could ask myself why this behavior existed and what I needed to learn from it. I discovered that I ate when my mother and father would fight, when voices escalated and when anger turned violent in my home. The practice of filling my stomach up was my eight year old way of feeling safe. The deeper lesson was that I never learned how to handle conflict as a adult, slipping into the comfort of food to feel safe.    

Knowing the lesson of our story will naturally shift our actions
We cannot accept ourselves if we do not know ourselves. We cannot love ourselves if we do not accept ourselves. Courageously opening to look at our stories wholly instead of pushing the symptoms of our pain away is the only way to bring about lasting change. Once we understand our stories, we can acknowledge and have gratitude for the behaviors we may have called "bad" and lovingly release them. Once I learned I had not grown from my childhood way of dealing with conflict and began to deal with conflict in a mature way, the symptoms of that lack healed and caused me to have a healthier diet.    

Our struggles are important indicators of who we are. Focusing on that 20 pounds, our procrastination, or our deepest desires when we set a resolution in the new year is like turning off a valuable internal indicator. So this new year, instead of banishing bad behavior or vowing to engage in a favorable practice, ask yourself what is the origin of your story. The answer may surprise you, and the result of shifting into a healthy sense of self will be enduring.