New Year, New Resolutions. That old chestnut.
In so many ways, the conditions are ripe for it at this time. Often in Jan, we’ve taken a break, mixed up the routine, have satisfied our inner hedonist over Christmas and NYE in celebration over the last year & heralding in the new. We spent all our money, took time off, ate lots of food, drank & more. (Or was that just me??) Afterwards we naturally feel a little austere, it’s quiet now, people are away, business can be slower, school is out. We have the space to contemplate. We may be pumped to start our new regime and that’s great, but why do most, even if they make a strong resolution, tend to not follow through with how they want to change and grow? Why do humans commonly do that? Why can’t we move forward in the ways we want? Why do we find it such an effort, too difficult & eventually give up?
I’ve just spent some time out at Buddhist Summer School and what was so brillantly pointed out by Dr. Kathleen Gregory was how masterfully and habitually we psychologically mistreat ourselves. It appears to be a very common characteristic of humans to have a very high tolerance for allowing self-critism and a very low capacity for patience, acceptance and tolerance of ourselves. This can especially be triggered when we are trying something new or making a change. If we take the time to sit quietly and are prepared to observe our inner dialogue, it can be really shocking to see what kind of content is there.
It appears that we commonly and often; shame ourselves, punish ourselves, critisize, censor, berate, humiliate, demand, worry, obsess, fixate, totalitize, catastrophize and more. These qualities that we would be very careful to limit in all the other relationships in our lives, yet we seem to have no scruples in allowing this to be our modus operandi of our internal dialogue. I ask, how are we supposed to have space to effortlessly make change. How can we have room for error to make the inevitable mistakes that come from trying new things, stretching ourselves, or make any kind of change if we are existing under this dictatorship. When the dictator is running the show, then new intentions can lead to an enormous amount of pressure on us.
So, to answer the above question; Why can’t we move forward in the ways that we want? I think the answer is two fold.
- It’s got to do with how we treat ourselves and
- How we bring that relationship that we have to ourselves into everything that we do.
Dr. Kathleen would posit and I would agree, that psychological health = quality of the relationship we have with ourselves. So, first and foremost, how about loosening the grip of the dictator? , why not commit to developing compassion and capacity for tolerence of yourself? To flip the script. Do unto ourselves, what we would do to others.
Why don’t you become your own best friend? Taking on this view, we can make the changes we want without the same degree of critical commentary running alongside it. Developing a compassionate attitude can create a mega ton of ease and peace within.
Peace, Ease, now who doesn’t want that.
Where to start? How about using the time you have on the Acupuncture table. Set your intention when you hop on to witness your thoughts and feelings and just be with them without judgement. Can you notice how you can tease apart some of your more fixed attitudes towards yourself. Can you notice how they are not helpful, how deeply imbedded they can be, how they can colour your experience? Can you drop them? Perhaps, perhaps not. But it’s a good place to start.
By spending time on the table in this way you can build, strengthen and develop the relationship to yourself.