January offers promise….of renewal, of realizing new dreams, of experiencing more joy, delight, and awe in the adventure we call life. When we respond to January’s offer with a burst of resolutions targeting areas we feel are lacking-be it in our life or ourselves-we often find ourselves discouraged and judging ourselves lacking even more so. What gives?
Without tending to how we apply our promises, our resolve, what often results is the derailment of a resolved goal of change or creating something new. In “the how” of a promise is caring for what might need tenderness or compassion as we take up the actions of change. For change to occur outside of ourselves, change is needed in how we are with ourselves.
One of my January joys is going through my possessions-clothes, books, files, closets-and winnowing out what has served it’s time and is ready to move on. I used to find it very difficult to part with my possessions, fearing the possession I let go of might be useful or missed in the future. In short, I did not trust myself to know myself, nor did I trust life to provide more in the future, resting instead with believing life’s uncertainties are best met with control.
The word promise comes from the Latin word “promittere” meaning “to send forward”. When I realized the heart of my resistance to releasing my possessions was fear, I made the choice to replace the fear with happiness for stewarding my possessions to it’s next place of service. Now others seek my aid in their process of letting go as well, for as I tell my clients, when you resolve something painful or harmful in yourself, you help others as well.
To take up January’s invitation to move forward, here are some suggestions:
- Apply compassion first. When feeling the defensive emotions of shame, anger, blame, etc, apply compassion to yourself, to the other, to the situation. Not only will you change what has power, you will feel what is asking for your care underneath the defensive emotions.
- Your reactions are your gift of a mirror. We judge in others what we have yet to resolve within and about ourselves. Demanding perfection-how we justify our blame and shame-harms not only our relationships, it harms us as well. Learn to receive where you blame or shame as your invitation to care for what is calling for tending within yourself.
- What you feel you can heal. Books bring us information, talking with friends brings ease, and feeling our emotions offers us information for resolving what is causing us pain. Because we are taught to be afraid of our emotions, I do not consider getting guidance and support for changing an indulgence, rather a caring and loving action on our behalf. When we are scared or in pain, it is just plain unkind to insist on bootstrapping it alone!
- When we trust ourselves, we love ourselves and our life more. So many people know life is precious and they are blessed, and still happiness and satisfaction elude them. They have not learned to trust themselves to take action on what has heart and value for them. When we do not honor what we know in our heart and soul, through actions in our daily life, happiness and satisfaction become elusive.
The gift of a human life is not a task to be completed-it is a magical and mystical journey, where courage, curiosity, and compassion enjoin our trust and passion for living our purpose and with joy. When we learn to trust ourselves, we learn to trust our life and how to trust others. When we learn to trust ourselves, we trust we will keep the promises we make, moving us forward with joy and delight in our adventures of life.