It’s January. A new year. A new decade, and an ominous one at that. 2020. A year that holds a lot of hope. Maybe the magic of the double 20 will, poof!.. bring in a new president for the US, resolve the ongoing Brexit fiasco, reverse climate change, and bring peace to the Middle East and everywhere else.
So much hope.
That’s how we start out every year. Turning over a new leaf, leaving all the mistakes of the last 365 days behind. Failures in the form of too much chocolate, booze, and spending, and the lesser evils of phone calls never made, relationships that got shelved, and baby steps towards dreams that we kept putting off until tomorrow.
This year is going to be different.
And so you wake up on January 1st, treating it like a high holy day. A full-on cleanse, pressing a reset button. This day you are somehow going to harness a different energy than you did yesterday. You’re going to wake up with a new focus, direction, commitment, and promise. This year you’re going to make life work just the way you want it to.
Except the sins of yesteryear have followed you and instead you’re groggy, hazy, and hungover from closing out the previous chapter with a bang. Oops you did it again. And so the best intentions will once again have to wait until tomorrow when you can think a little bit more clearly.
I’ve lived out this pattern so many times. Not just on the December 31st to January 1st phenomenon, but many random days of the year. Waking up hoping that I’d get through the day by sticking to the plan and therefore avoiding a binge and calling it a ‘good’ day. Inevitably I’d mess it up somewhere along the way, and with an all-or-nothing mentality firmly in place, I’d then go over the top; consuming more than my body and spirit could handle. I’d roll into bed giving myself with an internal bollocking about just how messed up I was, then put my head on the pillow promising tomorrow would be different, all to wake up once again with the hopeful hangover. With not much changing, it was a very disembodied hamster wheel I was riding.
I longed for perfection. Each day gave the potential for a clean slate without any screwups; without eating too much, skipping a run, masterbating, or having an unplanned shopping spree; all the cardinal sins of the day.
I had rituals. Especially around New Year. Shave my legs, change my sheets, wash my hair. Make myself as clean as possible to eliminate any dirt and blemishes that might travel with me across the magic midnight hour.
I kept busy. Cross off everything on my to-do list, answer all the emails, make all the phone calls. If I could just go to bed with everything ‘done’, I’d have an even better chance of succeeding at life tomorrow.
I even had strategy and plans. Map out the blog posts, the events, the social media calendar for Q1 so that all I had to do was execute. No thinking involved, just operate on auto pilot so that I couldn’t mess up and sabotage my own business once again.
I’d hold on for a day, a week, maybe even a month, and then it would all fall apart. That part of me that was scared shitless of failure would get so freaked out it needed soothing. Food, booze, spending, the arms of a man, or starting over without ever seeing Plan A through. My fear kept me on a loop.
Of course you see the irony here. Afraid to fail and yet it’s the fear that fucks you over. The lack of faith that you can survive without the extra plate of food, that you’ll look beautiful with the 5 lbs and without a new dress, that you are talented enough without needing to slave away until 11pm and miss out yet again on quality time with family and friends.
It’s our fear that keeps us frenzied and drives us crazy.
It’s our faith that carries that flow to keep us sane.
With 10 days of a new year under your belt, my guess is things aren’t going quite to plan.
Even if you’re nailing your personal new year’s resolution, hearts are breaking as marriages and long-term partnerships end, grief is billowing as the fires in Australia blaze on, and the US is on the verge of having it out with Iran, triggering alarm bells signalling catastrophe.
While you may have started off the year with bucket loads of hope, you’re not alone if by now you are slumping into what feels more like despair.
This is normal.
It’s normal for life to cycle through peaks and troughs, life and death, destruction and repair. It’s normal for emotions to rise and fall like waves.
Life becomes fuller, richer, and dare I say easier, when you embody this flow.
Because it’s not normal to keep up a 365 day streak of perfection. It’s not normal for a consistent upward climb without a few steps backwards. It’s not normal to be smiling and happy and for everything to be ‘fine’ all the time. When I see the pushing through or glossing over, I am wary that everything is really OK. Unless you are letting yourself be carried and the flow of life takes you permanently to these calm and still waters, it’s more likely that there’s an unhealthy striving and hiding from you’re really feeling, needing and sensing; a fight and flight in your system that is driving you forward without letting you really connect to what is real.
Perfection is not normal, yet this is what we market and sell to each other and naively buy into.
This year I’d like to offer you something different. Instead of hoping and striving for a perfect year where you finally get it right, maybe the kindest thing you can give yourself this year is the gift of letting it be messy.
Starting off the year with the resolution or intention to lose the weight, make the money, achieve whatever your goal is, is great. It shows you’ve got some gumption in you. You can see where your life could be better and you’re prepared to make it so.
Too often though, the goal becomes ‘the thing’. It sucks all your power and becomes this condemning monster. If you’re body isn’t responding to the diet and exercise protocol, the cash isn’t coming in fast enough, you’re failing at life and once again your self-worth plummets.
When you let go of the goal, let go of achieving an outcome that you’ve subconsciously or not hung your self-worth hat on, a beautiful thing happens. As risky, illogical, and ‘worst idea ever’ as that sounds, when things don’t go to plan, and even fall apart, you have a chance to love yourself and let yourself be loved without all these external achievements and identities propping you up.
If you only know your worth when your business and marriage works, your body is tight and lean and your kids are acing their life, you are standing on really shaky ground. Take any of that away and you fall flat.
But to know your worth without any of those external things in place? And still feel whole. Seen. Loved. That is worth living for.
This last year gave me that gift. The plans I made were ripped up by the universe. I had the least amount of coaching clients ever. Attendance at Embody classes dropped. I didn’t bring in any income for the first 6 months of the year. My marriage was challenged. I had my first grey hair that brought me to tears at the realization I was turning 39, childless, and my body’s most fertile years are behind me.
And yet for all the plans that didn’t go my way and the hopes and dreams that seemed further away, I received a gift. I am no longer defined by them. I longer needed them to confirm my worth.
It was in this blank slate empty space of where I found my faith. A deep deep connection from the waters of my being with the ultimate Source of it all, that I knew was loving me and holding me through all this.
I have no success stories to share to prove this to you, just a feeling of peace for once, even amidst the chaos swirling around me.
If you are craving more peace, more sanity, more space and rest in your life, check-in with those resolutions. What’s driving them? Is there some fear in there? The thought that if they don’t happen it’s ‘bad’, you’ve failed, or even worse… are worthless?
If you are needing those resolutions to happen in order to feel good about yourself, safe and secure, and worthy of love, consider letting them go. Make room for the deep longing and yearning of your soul to be met.
If you were ready to get your body back, make room for unconditional love regardless of your shape.
If you were finally going to get a hold of your finances, let your need for safety and security be met in more permanent ways.
If you were going to solve all the problems in your marriage, let yourself commune with a Lover that will never let you down.
If you are ready to take the plunge into the new year into deeper darker mysterious waters where there isn’t a clear path, I commend you and I’m with you.
We’re coming up to a Full Moon as I’m sharing this, which gives you a chance to redo new years. Instead of making a resolution to go after what you want, it’s a time for letting go and making room to receive that which you can’t give yourself on your own.
On this random day in January that has no sacred significance, perhaps you make the day sacred as you reclaim it for yourself. Not because from here on out you are going to get it right, but from here on out you are going to let yourself get it wrong. Let go of the fear that drives the need for it to be perfect and let yourself be carried by Faith instead.
If you’re wondering where to start with that, I’ve got something for you.
The first chapter of the self-study guide I wrote, walks you through a process to figure out what it is you’re holding on to and how to gently let it go.
And if you want some additional support, see if coaching is right for you.