You probably don’t need to be reminded that we’ve been steeped in the tradition of making new year’s resolutions - and usually breaking them before we get very far into the new year. Is it even worth making resolutions? Or is there a different perspective we can discover that will enable us to optimistically go forth in realizing our hopes and dreams?
I’ve been thinking about how ingrained this tradition is, especially for us in the western world. It’s as though we pile everything we’ve labelled as our failures, our shortcomings, our weaknesses - everything we didn’t manage to accomplish or acquire - into a huge garbage bag on New Year’s Eve and put it out for the trash collection the next day. “There! that’s gone. Now we can make a fresh start,” we say. But in my own experience I‘ve come to see that when I find myself doing this kind of all-or-nothing reaction, it prevents me from recognizing a fundamental truth about my own potential, and of human potential in general. And every time I remember this fundamental truth, it allows me to ease up on myself and trust the process of starting over. Or starting from scratch.
Not to rain on our collective parade (to borrow an old-fashioned phrase), but it’s worth noting that calendars are made up; they’re relative and subjective but nevertheless, generally agreed upon by the people around us. There are about 40 calendars currently in use all over the world, not just our Gregorian calendar. So even though we’ve made up different kinds of calendars, it’s still a very compelling notion, an almost mystical power, in the idea of beginning a new year.
What does it really mean to start fresh or to begin again? I’ve tried most, if not all, of the “expert” advice to buckle down, work harder, develop better habits, be better organized - and I found that all those external methods support but only temporarily inspire action. I’ve also tried the internal tricks: affirmations, visualizations, tapping (EFT) - and those also had some benefit but were still temporary and didn’t ultimately address why I’d get discouraged and quit project after project or dream after dream.
That discouragement showed up in full force the other day when I found myself behaving in a way that was contrary to everything of value that I’ve learned and shared with others. A veritable “thoughtstorm” was raging in my head, full of judgments and bad feelings about all the things I hadn’t been able to do or maintain. I was horrified at how I was behaving and yet it seemed out of my control. Who knows, maybe the vibrations of the collective energetic field of end-of-year-out with-the-bad-in-with-the-new mindset were affecting me! But all I knew was that I was miserable. I assumed I was being miserable to others and felt powerless to do anything about it.
A few hours into it I suddenly remembered the lifeline I referred to earlier: beneath all the craziness, all the emotional turmoil that may rage inside me, is that ground of being which has always been and always will be untouched, unblemished and unspoiled. This is not exclusive to just me - it’s true of all human beings. It’s who we are. Realizing this gives me the perspective to move forward when my vision has been temporarily clouded by negative thoughts and feelings. It means that even when those thought-feelings are like a noisy thunderstorm on the surface of my being, I’m still just fine on that deeper level. And because there is that deeper, untouched level, I don’t have to judge myself or predict my future success (or failure) by the thoughts and feelings that come and go. They will all pass just as the thunderstorm gives way to the sunshine.
There’s another aspect of this deeper nature within us that enables me to take a breath and start fresh. It’s that this deeper aspect of ourselves is totally and always generative. This “deeper mind” is the source of all new thinking, new possibilities, new directions for anything and everything we want to create. I don’t have to rely on external or internal props to have a better year or a better relationship or better finances or a better life. As soon as we look from that vantage point, this infinite Mind or Source that’s built into us will show us the way. Without the burden of judgment and without having to wait for a new year to come around, I can start fresh at any moment. I’m free (untouched and unbounded) to move through the whole range of human emotions, to create and to experience the aliveness of whatever emerges in the process.