It’s yet another new year and I trust that it has begun effortlessly. Have you determined to fulfil some New Year’s resolutions? And, if so, what are your chances of succeeding?
It seems that generally New Year’s resolutions often end up going by the wayside, possibly because the targets or goals set are too difficult for the individual to maintain consistently.
Once the feeling of failure enters any situation the most likely response and perception is that, “This is too hard maybe I’ll be ready for this change next year”. After several years of following this pattern the individual then finally gives up attempting to make the changes required to give up addictions, to eat healthier, to lose weight, etc. Or, as is sometimes the case the individual begins to make some real progress with their resolution but as time progresses find their resolve weakens and eventually there is a reversal to previous behaviour patterns.
What is the dynamic that keeps us stuck in behavioural patterns? How do emotions contribute to this?
In his powerful research nearly one hundred years ago, Napolean Hill, found a recurring pattern taking place with individuals who aspired to follow their passion, their dream. He records this beautifully in Think and Grow Rich, a book that’s as widely relevant today as it was when published.
Hill found that highly successful people hold deep convictions – and determination – to succeed. They hold faith in their aspirations. But, interestingly, every person who succeeds does not give up when the going gets really tough. Hill identified a phase that occurs just before success is within grasp. This phase we would probably label as “the darkest hour before dawn”.
It is this incredibly dark and challenging time that separates successful people from those who fail to reach their goals. Pushing forward when most challenged is what produces desired results. In fact, those perceived insurmountable challenges can be viewed as necessary precursors to creating lasting change.
We live in a world filled with uncertainty and constant change. Regardless of whether or not New Year’s resolutions are made we are continually faced with situations that require change in some form or another. When there is a resistance to change this results in feelings of dis-empowerment, helplessness and also possibly intense emotions such as anger or apathy.
Human emotions, belief systems and behavioural patterns all contribute, and respond, to the change processes as they occur. These factors can be viewed as either detrimental or supportive. It is basically a matter of how they are perceived.
For example, when faced with a challenge that poses the opportunity for change occurring on some level do you resist, viewing it as a potential threat to your existence? Or, do you view the challenge as possibly having some potential for positive change, maybe even new opportunities?
Some years ago I encountered a research article about vision and beliefs. The research demonstrated that it’s not a matter of believing what is seen but is actually the reverse – we see what we believe! This indicates that our belief systems actually create our reality. Beliefs are basically perceptions that we hold around people, issues and the world at large that have been inculcated via generational patterning, repetition and acceptance of the status quo.
Over time, due to the repetitive nature of beliefs (perceptions), they become ‘truth’. And, it becomes all too easy to accept as complete truth beliefs that actually have little or no real basis in reality. In my book, The New World of Self Healing, I write, “You believe what you know. What you come to know becomes your truth. Your view of what is true comes from your observation of the world and is greatly shaped by the beliefs and knowledge you have acquired.”
While this may sound somewhat convoluted I believe that this actually means there is an opportunity to dismantle erroneous beliefs and to open to new, and often healthier, ways of perceiving yourself and reality. If a belief is merely the creation and repetition of thoughts and emotions then conscious application and intention to change can create positive and desired outcomes.
How does this process work? How can simple changes in thought and intention manifest desired, lasting and meaningful changes?
Some common limitations to manifesting positive change include:
- Lack of self worth. This includes I’m not good enough, not intelligent enough, not pretty enough, etc.
- Self hatred or dissatisfaction with self. This includes abusive thoughts, emotions and behaviours towards the self.
- Feelings of victimhood and disempowerment.
- Reliance on external validation in order to feel accepted.
- Believing other peoples’ needs and emotions are more important.
Becoming the observer, or witness, to your emotions and beliefs is an easy step to changing beliefs and truths. Some questions to ask are:
- Why do I believe this?
- What is the belief underlying this emotion or reaction?
- Is there any validity to the belief?
- Where does this belief originate?
- Does this belief serve me well now?
- If not, what is the appropriate belief (and behaviour) to replace it with?
Once there is understanding around beliefs and truths then it’s a matter of consciously and consistently creating new, positive and supportive attitudes and actions. Letting go of old beliefs requires significant inner work. It necessitates conscious awareness of patterns that have become habituated, along with a willingness to let go of those that no longer serve your highest good. In other words, anything that doesn’t feel good, that inhibits your growth as a human being and that limits your enjoyment of life needs to be released with love.
A number of strategies can assist in releasing limiting patterns and behaviours.
- Meditation is a powerful tool for letting go. Setting the intention to release with love all that no longer serves your highest good, then going into a meditative state and visualizing the old limitations releasing assists in releasing the layers of cellular memory.
- Make a declaration of release. This facilitates the release of stagnant energy memory. Choose your own meaningful statement or possibly something like this, “I release with love all emotions and thoughts that have contributed to…… I release them from all times, planes and dimensions. I replace them with the energy of unconditional love and know the Universe provides abundance in all things.”
- Old habits have a way of resurfacing. You have the power to change the old patterns of response and functioning. Whenever a thought intrudes that you are not good enough, lack talent, etc then affirm aloud the exact opposite. Affirm that you are successful, that you are deserving, etc. In other words, you are re-programming your consciousness when undertaking this process.
- Write lists of all your special skills, talents and qualities. Write lists of how other people see you. Listing these is very revealing. When doing this you may have awareness of some negative qualities you wish to change. If so, write them as a positive statement and describe how you will achieve this intended change. Refer to the lists as often as you choose. Use them in affirming ways in everyday life situations. Continual reinforcement of your worth and success will pay dividends.
Gandhi is often quoted as saying, You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Changing from within is essential to this process. All the New Years’ resolutions will only succeed insofar as there has been sufficient inner change to create the external changes.
Popular literature often uses the words ‘self sabotage’ to describe our failure to fulfil our desires. While this term is widely understood and even hints at failure I much prefer to focus on the concept of re-programming. This is because our beliefs, thoughts, emotions, etc have all been programmed into our conscious and sub-conscious minds via our life experiences. Consequently, being such powerful beings we have the power to re-program those aspects of our character and behaviours that we know are detrimental to our health and wellbeing.
The journey of inner change and growth is essential to the creation of an external reality that has equity, generosity, shared community values, co-operation, and so on. The global changes we all hope to see in our lifetime will only occur when we undertake the work necessary to change the inner landscape.