Imagine you make a New Year’s Resolution for 2014 and you still remember it by the time Super Bowl rolls around. To create this change, to make it part of your lifestyle, consider that change has a twin called transition that will make the lasting difference. Change is the external behavior that we all see in our life. Transition is the internal emotional experience that is not visible and frequently not acknowledged. Here are five practices that allow you to support and nurture these twins, to create a happy new year, and to be the change you want to be in the world.
Practice #1: Imagine the New.
Find a quiet place to sit. Have paper and pencil close by. Imagine the change you want to be. Take as long as you want. What do you hear yourself saying? How do you feel? What are you doing? In her book Morning Pages, Julie Cameron advises you to write three pages in longhand at the beginning of the day. Capture anything that comes to mind about your imagined change for 2014. Just do it—for 40 days.
We live in the rational world and want to know how everything will happen. But to paraphrase Albert Einstein, we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. So instead we use our imagination.
Practice #2: Be grateful for the Old.
Gratitude allows us to be grateful for all our experiences and moves us to a state of receptivity. It can totally reverse fear and distress. Looking for good allows us to appreciate the gifts inside any experience.
Write your “old story.” Include when, what, who, how, and why. Use all your senses in recalling. Now reread it at least three times. Then write a list of things you are grateful for in this old story. What did you learn about yourself and your way of thinking? Remember: we are not our stories.
Practice #3: Forgive.
Forgiveness holds within it freedom and release for the those who are willing to forgive, whether it’s themselves or others. Forgiveness does not mean you agree with or condone others’ behaviors. Forgiveness is an attitude that sets the forgiver free. Again, we are not our old stories.
Practice #4: Create the New.
Acknowledging our old story and practicing forgiveness help us to grieve the death of old ways. This is the beginning of transition and can be reinforced with a ceremony that allows you to say good bye to those parts of the old story that no longer serve you. Possibilities for release: reading the old story aloud and burning it or having a funeral for it. Do whatever works for you to clear the way for new ways of thinking.
Using Mary Morrissey wording, start your new story off with “I am grateful and I love living.” Write your new story as if you are already living it—no ifs or whens or I am trying to language. The next step in writing your new story is to read your morning pages aloud with these questions in mind: What themes do I hear? What do I feel or see? How am I being? What am I thinking? Claim these insights in your new story, your commitment to yourself.
Practice #5: Live the New.
You get to make it up. For awhile it could be scary, confusing, frustrating. Realize you are doing something differently to get different results. Let go of being comfortable. Find the humor. Be present to your fear.
To sustain your new story or way of thinking and doing, create support practices that might include:
• repeating affirmations. Here’s a good one: Today, I realize there are no limits to what I can be or do. I see only my potential to realize and live all my dreams;
• sharing your new story with like-minded people;
• painting or creating a collage of your new story;
• listening to inspiring music. My favorite is “Ain’t no stopping me now;”
• writing a song or poem or creating a dance that inspires you to live your new story.
What will support you in making and keeping your resolutions in 2014? The fact that you focus on both the external process, the change, and the inner process, the transition. Together these help you to create new ways of thinking and new guides for making decisions. It can change your life.
Rev. Ruth Littlejohn is founding spiritual leader of Hampton Roads Center for Spiritual Living, a Science of Mind® Community. She offers principles, practices, and tools for “changing your thinking to change your life.” Visit www.hamptonroadscsl.org or call 757-271-1552.