As you turn to the New Year, remember the ‘Old You’ has got you this far – you are Amazing already. Take a bow. To reach your goals for 2017, Accept The Gift of You.
NEW YEAR, NEW YOU?
Are you starting 2017 thinking of New Year Resolutions? ‘I don’t like this and I must change that ….’ and is it possible that by the time we get Spring you’re going to be thinking ‘Where’d the New Me go??’
Well, I am bound to say – and I am sure you would agree – You Don’t Get a New You for 2017. You get Old You. You are the only You that you can be. Think about that. Pause. Take a breath. Face yourself.
Now think a little more. Whether you are in a Good Place or Difficult Place, You got You to Here, in This Moment. Think about that. Don’t under-estimate it. After all life can be a complicated business. Accept Yourself.
And so we reach the last in this little trilogy through the holiday season, to help us throughout the year to come:
- Thanksgiving 365 – the Attitude of Gratitude
- The Wrong (Christmas) Jumper – the Attitude of Authenticity
- Happy New Year, Same Ol’ (New) You – the Attitude of Acceptance
The Attitude of Acceptance
This seemingly tricky little number underpins much of our growth in Mindfulness. It brings to mind pictures of ‘accept that person or situation which harms me or that behaviour that undoes me?? No Way!’ Fear not, that is not what the Attitude is about. Jon Kabat-Zinn explains this beautifully in his highly acclaimed book ‘Full Catastrophe Living’.
The Attitude of Acceptance is about being open to seeing things as they truly are in this moment. To accept a situation or circumstance does not mean we approve or ‘give in’ to it. Acceptance means ‘I see it, without clouding my mind with denial, prejudice, fear and/or self-judgement’.
When we come to accept difficult situations, we often have to go through strong emotions, like denial and fear. Mostly in just going about our daily lives we can waste a lot of energy denying and resisting what is already fact. We try to force situations to be the way we want them to be – and so create more tension instead of less (a bit like the Cognitive Dissonance I talked about last time). Without realising it, we have spent our energy on clouded judgement and have little left for growing and healing.
Our Resolutions, or Highest Intentions
New Year resolutions – health, happiness, success, change in our community or the wider world – however we frame them, are really based on our Highest Intentions. We are not really thinking of being a ‘New Me’ but ‘the Best Me’.
So, imagine if we are deciding our goals and setting our path through the clouded judgement of denial or fear or critical self-judgement or even just what we think we ‘should’ be doing, what we think is expected of us. How do we think that’s going to work out for us?
- How can we gain the clarity we need to decide the most appropriate action to take if we are busy trying to deny or hide our imperfections or key facts about our environment?
- How do we even know the right goals for us, the best sort of plan to make to meet our goals, and whether to stay on that path or adjust it as time passes, if we are not in tune with our Authentic selves?
- How can we gain the inner conviction needed to make lasting change if we don’t accept what is already there?
- If we don’t treat ourselves (and the wider world) with Loving Kindness, how will we have the energy and compassion to begin and sustain our growth and healing?
- How can we move forwards if we are not Grateful for and honour all the strengths that brought us this far, and all the little successes we gain?
Without an Attitude of Acceptance, it is very hard to effect change – whether that is losing that weight or self-destructive habit or changing difficult circumstances.
Losing weight is a popular goal at this time of year – to be ‘beach ready’ by summer (whether we intend going near a beach or not); and the goal is often repeated in spring with more urgency as it clear original targets have not been met. Imagine:
- Might we be more likely to make healthy eating choices if we feel we are already worthy of love and compassion and we want to nourish our body? Or if we ‘hate’ our body and can’t bear to look in the mirror?
- Might we make more sensible choices if we accept that we ‘comfort eat’, and make a short list of alternative comforts to try? Or if we hide the fact along with the ‘emergency biscuits’?
- How about if we congratulate ourselves each time we make a sensible choice, and forgive ourselves and look honestly at what happened when we make a poor choice? Or if we ‘force’ ourselves to eat a salad, and when we reach for pizza or cake either hide the evidence or tell ourselves ‘see I Knew I was rubbish and have no willpower?
- Are we going to get anywhere with it at all, if we are really working from images in the media rather than our own feelings about our own body? Do we even know what We really want to achieve?
I hope it might be seen that if we work from a position of Gratitude, Authenticity and Acceptance, we might be more successful in our endeavours.
So let’s have a brief recap from this trilogy:
- Physically, research shows we can’t be thankful and stressed at the same time – that helps us think and act more clearly and logically.
- It helps us keep motivated – we’re not attached to a difficulty, and we have identified strengths we can keep building on.
Try: the daily Gratitude exercise in that post – noting 3 things you are grateful for each day.
We learn to recognise with kindness all of our strengths and weaknesses, skills and abilities, and all of our feelings, wants and needs. We set our boundaries according to our true values, personality and spirit – not by expectations outside of us. We are enough. We can fulfil our potential. We can be happy.
Try: the Loving Kindness meditation described in my post.
The Attitude of Acceptance:
In each moment we practice seeing things for how they really are, and how we experience them without getting caught up in them or overwhelmed by them.
To cultivate our Attitude of Acceptance, practice meditations, taking a moment and being with it. Accept whatever arises – clear mind, intrusive thoughts, calm or awkward feelings – be receptive to it all – it is here anyway, and we might learn something about ourselves and the path we are taking. Allow your breathing to carry you through.
The Hour Glass Meditation
This is a great little meditation which you can vary in length. You can try perhaps taking around 1 minute for each of the three parts:
Begin with you awareness fully expanded. Notice how you are feeling physically and emotionally. Notice your posture and how it feels. Be curious about your thoughts. Try to observe them without judging, in a detached way rather than getting caught up in them.
Now narrow your awareness to inside of you, to your own breathing and the gentle rise and fall of your abdomen. Just be aware of your breathing without trying to change it. When your attention wanders away just notice where it goes to and bring it gently back to your breathing again.
Then allow your awareness to expand again, from your abdomen to all of your body. Notice if you can a feeling of breathing into your whole body and through your skin. See if you can notice a sense of wholeness and completeness in yourself – fully accepting and not striving – okay to be just who you are at this moment.
When you are ready, gently open your eyes and stretch.
Wishing You Happy Moments
However you are feeling, a great little exercise can be to think ‘What can I do today that will be joyful?‘. Whether it’s taking a moment to really notice and enjoy a cup of tea or what we eat, a quick walk, smiling at nature, a random act of kindness (let that person out of that road junction maybe) … When you start thinking about it you will find loads of potential moments that will be make You joyful. Just taking that moment each day can be wonderful, can help you be more in tune with you, and imagine having 365 of them by this time next year!
Way To Go:
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