‘Tis the season to set goals and make resolutions. You know the drill – make resolutions, break resolutions, feel bad about breaking them, feel bad about feeling bad about it. And then, from that frustrated and disappointed mindset, keep trying to motivate yourself to stick to the plan. Sounds like a stressful and miserable way to start a new year, let alone, a way to live a life!
Consider approaching this new year with a fresh perspective – decide that no matter what happens this year, you are committed to living a life you love.
Imagine taking that on as THE GOAL. From there, while planning your year, your month, your week, your day, ask yourself, “Will this choice make me feel more in love with myself and my life?” Notice I added “myself” in there – because, no matter how much you accomplish, it’s pretty tough to enjoy the ride if you’re in a not-so-hot relationship with yourself.
From all the years of coaching others, and from my own life, if I had to distill down the key factor that determines whether someone is happily living a life they love, it comes down to what kind of relationship they have with themselves. We can’t get away with having a great life while secretly in a crappy relationship with ourselves.
And it’s not our fault. We live in a society that breeds self-hatred. And the outcome is evident all around us as the cultural norm is to take cover in a variety of addictions: overbusyness has become a badge, hyper-identification with a job role is a sign of success, sex and romantic fantasy addiction dominates the online dating world, consumerism and the non-stop need to acquire more stuff is sanctioned, and food and alcohol abuse is rampant – anything to numb the pain of our deep self-loathing. We’re collectively obsessed with trying to get our internal needs met by external means and it’s a no-win game.
So even though we may not have caused it, it is our responsibility to show up for ourselves in a way that honors and respects relationship, “the state of being connected”, and the most important place to start is to look at how we’re connecting with ourselves. Once you shift this most primary relationship, the rest unfolds accordingly.
Challenge yourself to decide what kind of relationship you want to have with yourself – you are your greatest love and the kind of life you have truly depends on how you are treating and talking to yourself. The idea is to start making choices that reflect a healthy, conscious, and loving relationship with yourself.
One way to do this is to get really honest about what kind of relationship you’re currently in with yourself. Is it tumultuous and unstable? Is it calm on the surface and a mess behind closed doors? Is it “touch and go”? Is it shallow and superficial, but as long as it looks good to others it’s good enough? Are you just using yourself in order to get others to do for you what you need to do for yourself? In other words, look for where you’re being not so honest about the way it actually is.
See what characteristics are most prevalent in your current relationship with yourself. Is there a lot of unchecked hostility, judgement and criticism? Do you allow yourself to talk to yourself with contempt and disregard? Is the self-talk snide and sarcastic? Blaming and defensive? Condescending and critical? Harsh and impatient? Sweet-talking and insidious?
Look at ways you abandon yourself by making choices that might get you short-term gratification but that make you feel sick inside because you know you’re selling out. Notice when you say ‘yes’ to people and things when you really mean ‘no’ and the impact it has on you and others. Consider the possible missed opportunities and ways you may have sabotaged situations and relationships where, instead of creating mutual respect and collaboration, trust, partnership, inspiration, and closeness – your actions caused irreparable damage, mistrust, ill-will, and un-lived possibilities.
The point of all this is that it’s all well and good to have goals and dreams, but if we’re in a continuous battle over whether we’re even worthy of having what we want, it’s not only exhausting and depleting to be in an ongoing contentious argument with ourselves, but, even if we do get what we asked for, we likely won’t have the capability to see it, be open to it and receive it, let alone hold on to it, when it does arrive.
Chances are, some of the things you find when you take a peek behind the curtain are not going to be pretty. But until you realize that “you’re the one you’ve been waiting for” and that no one’s coming to rescue you from the chaos of your own self-abandonment, no amount of outside approval is going to make you ever feel enough. And when we don’t feel enough inside, we create and perpetuate a continuing cycle of pain and suffering for ourselves and others. And on it goes, and time waits for no one, and there goes living a life we love.
Now the good news! Once you decide to make your relationship with yourself the most important relationship you’ll ever have, you’re on your way to living a life you love. Decide what qualities you want to develop in this intentional relationship. Some to consider are – warm and understanding, open, honest, and trusting, playful and curious, sweet and loving, fun and exciting, responsible and accountable, safe and secure, tender and caring, mindful and attentive, appreciative and thoughtful. Go ahead and come up with your own that feel right for you and feel free to mix and match.
And it’s not about being perfect and never having a bad word to say about yourself – hardly. It’s about deciding what kind of relationship you want to have with yourself, no matter what comes your way. It’s committing to a way of life. You get to decide what that looks like and you can tweak it as you go. And when you notice yourself slipping into old ways of relating to yourself – and you will – simply acknowledge it for what it is, an old default – and choose from your list of new ways of being, and keep at it. Expect it to take practice. Like anything else worth having, it requires practice, patience, and support – and it gets easier.
And it just so happens that one of my favorite creative geniuses, John Lennon, put it this way: “We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”
How you know you’re on the right track is that you feel alive, open, and inspired – connected to others and all of life – you’re living a life you love! From this place of lovingkindness and compassionate self-regard, you’re free to make choices that truly align with who you really are, which is who we all are: powerful, thriving, creative, and worthy humans with unlimited potential to live a life filled with love, joy, peace, connection, and true contentment.
Have fun playing with this approach and let me know how it goes!
With Big Love,
Stay tuned for my next post which will focus more on the nuts and bolts of making your dreams come to life – coming shortly: Make 2015 your best year ever – how to turn good ideas into powerful intentions.