The 2018 holiday season is now in full swing. For most people it’s a hectic time even when things are flowing well, because a sizable increment of things to do has suddenly been added to already-overflowing lists. It’s not exactly a time that seems ideal for focusing on personal transformation, given the more immediate tasks that demand your attention.
And yet, in a certain way, the holiday season IS an ideal time for personal transformation. The busy-ness of it provides the perfect opportunity for transforming how to relate to yourself when there are seemingly endless demands on your time.
I’ve noticed that, with many people, the more they expect of themselves, the more punitive they are with themselves for not meeting those expectations. It’s as if the sheer quantity of things to do gets the inner judge really excited, what with all the opportunities it provides for dropping the ball or making mistakes or flat-out forgetting things. What rich fodder for a judge-fest!
But that kind of fest is not at all fun, so let’s turn this around, shall we? Let’s transform the mindset of, “The more I have to do, the harder I have to be on myself to get it all done” to, “The more I have to do, the kinder I must be to myself in order to get what actually needs to be done, done with Grace.”
If you’re on board with me, then you’ve just opened the first portal of transformation:
The heart of intention is desire, and the body of intention is commitment. Loving commitment. You have to want to be kinder to yourself, and decide that you’re committed to it. (And, frankly, that you’re deserving of your own kindness.) I hope this one is really, really easy for you.
So now what? What’s the next step? Follow me, please. Just take a nice, big, deep breath and put a little Mona Lisa smile on your face. (Really, do that – and notice how you feel. Maybe a bit lighter and more relaxed?)
Welcome to the second portal of transformation:
This one is a bit more challenging than the first. What you need to do is imagine you can “turn up the dial,” so to speak, on your self-awareness, paying particular attention to the ways and times in which you are unkind or judgmental toward yourself. The reason this step is challenging is that, for many people, the unkind thoughts have become so familiar they just seem true. I assure you they are not.
But they can be difficult to detect, given how seamlessly they’re integrated with things you believe are true. The most direct way to uncover those thoughts is by paying attention to the way you feel – perhaps rushed, impatient, guilty or frustrated – and then noticing what you’re thinking at that time.
And just as importantly, noticing what other assumptions and conclusions lurk just beneath your initial conscious thought. For example, you may be feeling rushed and impatient, and the thought in your mind is, “I don’t have time for this!” (“This” being anything from standing in a long line at the grocery store, to waiting on hold for the Comcast representative to pick up your call, to your teenager’s stubborn refusal to do whatever you’ve asked him or her to to.)
Underneath that may be a constellation of other thoughts such as, “I shouldn’t have waited so long before I got started” or “Now I’m going to be further behind than I already am” or perhaps “I shouldn’t let this get to me!”
Remember you are in the portal of Awareness. In neutral observation, simply acknowledge the unkind tone of these thoughts and how unhelpful they are to you. Then take a deep breath.
Good. Now you’re ready to move through the third portal of transformation:
Ah, willingness. The word itself has a graceful, fluid quality to it, doesn’t it? The very quality we want to bring into our experience of moving through the holiday season.
So what are you now willing to do? You’re willing to withdraw your attention from these thoughts and focus in a more loving direction.
No judging yourself for having them, no inner debates, no wringing of hands or gnashing of teeth. Just another one of those nourishing deep breaths – and maybe another Mona Lisa smile – and then you simply anchor your attention into something comforting or funny or kind.
You’ll do yourself a tremendous service by thinking of a few of those things right now and committing them to memory. That way you can shift focus to one of them quickly and easily, in the very moment of having become aware of an unhelpful thought. You won’t need to call a time-out, sit down with your journal and try to craft something from scratch. (Although I highly recommending calling time-outs and spending loving, reflective time with your journal whenever you can.)
Here are a few you might consider adopting or adapting to your personal preferences:
- The more relaxed I can let myself be right now, the better everything will flow. (Shorter version: The more relaxed I am, the better everything flows.)
- The things that really need to get done always get done.
- Something good could come from this.
- Something good IS coming from this, if I allow it.
- I have all the time I need.
- The Divine is always on time.
- I’m doing the best I can, it’s all I can do, and it’s more than enough.
Hopefully you get the idea. With these statements you’re capturing reminders of things you know or believe that help you put things into a larger, more loving perspective.
Those of you who know me well also know that I refer to these statements as anchor statements, because you’re using them to anchor your focus into something loving so it doesn’t drift back into judgment-land. Don’t let their simplicity fool you into thinking they aren’t effective. They are tremendously helpful in literally transforming your diminishing thought processes into ones that are supportive – when you carry them through the fourth portal of transformation:
As with virtually all transformational changes, moving from self-judging to self-loving isn’t usually a one-and-done kind of experience. It takes practice. It actually takes a willingness to practice rather than the sheer force of willpower, so you may need to double-back on the third portal.
Just be willing, time and again, to pause as soon as you’re aware of unkind thoughts, take a deep breath, and anchor into something loving or helpful or kind. Those three steps are your practice. That’s it. Just keep practicing them.
Over time they become easier, then easy, then automatic…and then, gloriously, the unkind thoughts just don’t emerge anymore.
Can you imagine how good that will feel? I’d say it’s the best gift you could give yourself…and the holiday season could be the perfect time to begin. I hope you’re with me in this.
Wishing you peace, ease and Grace this season and always.
Copyright © 2018
Suzanne E. Eder