As seen on PsychCentral
With just a few days left of 2016, we inch toward the final days of this tumultuous year. Many of us may be looking forward in hopes of a fresh new start in 2017, but if we are to do so authentically then we must make peace with what has passed.
For many of us, the world as we knew it was turned upside down this year. Our fears and shadows rose to the surface to be seen on the personal and collective stage.
Whatever appeared stable and predictable was unearthed and we found ourselves in a constant state of uncertainty. The reality of change was forced upon us, if we were in any way opposing this truth.
Perhaps for many of us we just want this year to be over. To move past what has been lost and wounded and start anew.
But it is impossible to start anew when we have healed the past. To simply move forward in the same way we always have is actually psychologically moving back. It is a denial of change and that always leads to even more suffering.
The question is then, how do we move forward into the new year authentically?
The answer to this is not an easy one but a necessary one. It manes a complete internal overhaul. A deep and honest look within, to change what can be changed and accept what must be accepted and to be integrate what needs to be learned.
This is no easy process but a worthy one. Here are 5 steps we can start with right now to bring make peace with 2016 and move into authentic personhood.
1. Embrace Change
Take a hard look at the last twelve months. Make a list of the things in your life that have changed. Next to each change write down the percentage of resistance you have felt toward this change 0-100%. Next to that write down the emotion that went with that change. Notice how strong resistance to change usually produces negative emotions.
Now make a determination: Does everything in life change? If the answer is yes, then know that by resisting change you are in fact resisting the nature of life. It is up to you at this point to acknowledge and accept this cornerstone of reality. Go through your list and say: "Since I now accept that everything changes I choose to embrace the things I cannot change and change the things I can.
Notice how different you feel emotionally bring this level of acceptance to change.
2. Acknowledge Loss
With change often comes loss. In as much as you embrace change, a healing space must also be created for the losses you have experienced. It may have been the end of a relationship, a new job, a move to another city or something completely unique to you. Each of these changes result in the loss of emotional attachments and can be very painful and difficult to process. To help heal the pain of loss write a letter to yourself acknowledging your loss. Write about how you felt at the time, the emotions and the struggles you've experienced and allow yourself to feel the grief end with a promise to hold a loving space for yourself whenever you need it. Complete this process by doing something to honor what has been lost in your life.
3. Uncover Lessons that Need to Be Learned
Th most painful of experiences often hold the most profound lessons. Looking back at the most difficult and trying events this year, ask yourself what is that I needed to learn from this? What was this experience trying to teach me? Turn each painful experience into a powerful life lesson and commit to integrating these learning into your life in the year to come.
4. Get to Know Your Shadow
If there is anything this year has made abundantly clear, it is that we all have a shadow. The darker part of our psyche that acts in ways that we consciously oppose. It is what we despise in others and refuse to look at in ourselves. Our shadow is the part of us that blames others and sabotages our happiness.The part of us that feel abandoned and afraid.
If we really want radical change, then we need to get to know and love our shadow. Start journaling to the part of you that gets angry, anxious or sad and has destructive behaviors. Come to know his or her underlying motivations and work hard to communicate with and accept this part of you and in so doing heal deeply.
5. Integrate and Set Intentions
Once you courageously begin your work through steps 1 - 4 then your next task is integration. Look at the areas in your life in which need further acceptance and forgiveness. Integrate your wisdom into these parts of your life by laying down your defenses and offering deep compassion for yourself and others.
Take the opportunity as this year closes to make peace with changes, losses and your shadow. From this inner peace, you are now in the position to mindfully set goals that integrate the lessons you have learned into positive changes.
By no means is what I have suggested an easy task, but it is worth it. It is worth walking courageously into the shadows with the healing light of conscious awareness. It is worth owning your power to create your life authentically and joyfully. It is worth making the very best of this beautiful and fleeting life.
Just take it one moment at a time. Make space for and embrace change joyfully and you will enter 2017 with a sense of reawakening to you.