Another revolution around the sun. It’s incredible! As we pass the marker that heralds the new and the passing of the old, it is important to start with a meditation intention. Standing on the threshold of the year forces me to have, like Janus, the Roman deity from which the month is named, a dual vision. So, what did I achieve last year? What events marked its passing? What do I want to change, accomplish, and focus on for the new one?
If you have circled the sun a few decades like me, chances are some of the things you are grappling with, well, you are still grappling with. It is hard to change. Maybe the wisdom lies in knowing which things to give up as things you cannot change because they are fundamentally not you, and which things you can to chisel away at the possibility of the new you. I believe the key is knowing who you truly are and accepting this reality. Many times we force ourselves to change into something that is not authentically who we are. Knowing the difference between your “real self” and your “false self,” that is, the self that is stamped on you by familial obligations, the media, even your own cognitive distortions and delusions, makes all the difference.
Starting a new year, begins with discarding the false idols of ourselves. This is painful because it means you might have to give up unrealistic goals, patterns that do not work anymore. You have to constantly be reteaching yourself to travel on new pathways, biologically and physically. To not fall back into what feels comfortable.
It is so scary to take on the task of being responsible for yourself. To start naked all over again. To see yourself as you are with all the imperfections and blocks and inabilities for change. Making new choices is so frightening. There is comfort in the bondage of the old way, the way things have always been done, the past. There is real insecurity and fear in the face of true freedom as there is all that weight of responsibility that comes with creating a new path a new you.
My intention for this new year is to live authentically, to parse the real self from the fabricated self. If I haven’t been able to change my life in the direction I have wanted, is it because I have not truly put in the deep soul work necessary to change from the core or is it because I have not accepted myself for who I am authentically? This is a hard one to call. It’s like trying to tell the dancer from the dance. But the crucial thing is to try, to force yourself to think deeply about who you are and why.
Many people never even enter the cave of their own self-knowledge. It is a painful, painstaking journey. I believe that your life just doesn’t change POOF! overnight with the swish of a magic wand. It changes because you do. You cannot change anything externally in your life without changing something deep within. The change from without starts from the change from within. And like every goal, change needs a game plan, a strategy, a deadline.
But like Janus’ other face, there is a time to give up the endless search for change and accept who you are. A lot of grief, disappointment and negative self-regard comes with always seeking to fit into an image of yourself that does not fit you anymore. Have you dealt with this? Sort of like keeping old outfits in the closet because they are so beautiful and sexy. But you have not been able to fit into them for ten years! Instead of trying to shape yourself to fit into those slinky little black dresses, just give them away. They no longer suit you. Accept the reality that you might not ever squeeze into a size 2, no matter how hard you diet and exercise. Those dresses that no longer fit might be career plans, relationship realities, goals that have never materialized.
The key has been and always will be the inscription across the temple of Apollo-“Know thyself.” This is by far the most important commandment.
In honor of the season and the time, I will challenge you with a thought exercise: make a T-chart and label it “Things I Can Change” “Things I Want to Change” and then a third column, “Things I have not been able to change.” Follow up with a reflection and free writing assignment seeing the connections. Think hard about the things you haven’t been able to change about yourself. Are they a reflection of the real you or the false you?
Another exercise for those visually inclined is to make a Janus drawing with faces looking forward and backwards and draw the big events, accomplishments, memories of the past year along with the intentions, areas of focus, goals for the new one.
My wish to you is to start your new revolution around the sun with mindfulness and intention. Think deeply and meaningfully about who you are and your choices for the new year.
Remember, it’s the journey, more than the destination that is important.