Many of us start off the new year with aspirations to be healthier, more productive, saner, and generally better off as human beings this year than we were the last. Often, that heightened sense of potential achievement dwindles in a matter of weeks if not days.
Why is that? I suspect it is because we placed our intention without checking to see if all of our internal patterns were in agreement with our decision.
As a kid, I was given to reading books on etiquette and columns by Ann Landers (which engendered my desire to have a career giving advice). My preoccupation with manners may have had something to do with being brought up by a British mother who wouldn’t let us leave the table without saying ‘thank you’ for the meal, and insisted we send cards of appreciation for gifts received (Thank you, Mom. I still think those are great ideas!). I was obsessed with being the best person I could possibly be.
I still love the idea of improving myself, mostly because I see my unexplored potential as rather interesting terrain. Ever since I took up meditation at the tender age of 13, I’ve wanted to plumb the depths of my psyche and become as aware and wise as possible.
Like many of us, I have set goals for myself that I have not achieved, or have done so on a timeline not of my conscious choosing. That’s because my little persona doesn’t have all the answers. The ego only does what it’s been told to do through its societal and familial conditioning. It thinks it knows who it is and what it wants, but it doesn’t have a clue how the unconscious aspects of the ego operate or what is important to them.
I believe that if you want your resolution to stick, you’ve got to sit down with your inner aspects and check in with where they stand. This is a technique I use when I’m setting an intention:
- Ask yourself, “Is all of me in agreement with this intention?”
- Notice how you feel immediately after you ask. Is there any tension in the body? Are there any off-centre emotions such as dread or elation (both suggest a lack of groundedness)?
- Breathe into the part of your body where you feel the emotion the most. Really tune into it (we have a tendency to do the opposite and block any inner dissension, because we want to feel right about our decisions). Even if the feeling is uncomfortable, pay attention to it.
- Have an internal conversation with that part. Not to bully it into submission, but with compassion and open curiosity, ask it why it doesn’t want to make the change. The answer may surprise you. Sometimes, it’s not time to start on that goal. There may be other priorities to attend to first, or patterns that need to be shifted before you can free up the energy to make changes. If you don’t know what’s holding you back, that’s where I come in. I can connect with your patterns for you, and give you insights directly from your subconscious (psychic coaches are cool that way).
- Don’t worry if you don’t get an answer right away. If you’ve never conducted an internal dialogue before, that part of your psyche may not be ready to reveal itself to you. Keep asking, and allow the limbic space for answers to arise.
You may not always get full consensus on your decisions, but by paying attention to dynamic internal tension around your choices, you’ll start to operate with more information – and I suspect in a gentler and more balanced way. The goal itself may also shift in a new direction as you ponder any resistance and look for ways to address it.
A few tips for goal setting:
- Keep them small and reasonable. For example: if you haven’t been to the gym in a few years, it’s probably not going to be appreciated by all aspects of you if you decide that you’re going to show up for a workout every day at 6 a.m. Planning to go at an enjoyable and humane hour 3 times a week at first, may be an approach for which you’ll get more internal agreement.
- Leave yourself wanting more. If, say, after a few weeks, you want to go to the gym more often, hold off. Give yourself a month to cement your new routine. Build the desire to go more often, and add on one more day a week the following month, rather than overdo and lose the desire to continue.
- Just do it. Once you have a sense that it’s time to follow through on a goal, you may still have patterns that just want to drag their feet when it comes to stepping out of their comfort zone. Acknowledge the inner reluctance (or utter resistance), and just go do it. Sometimes, we have patterns that don’t want to participate. Unless they have a sound reason for their resistance, ask them to step aside and let others aspects come into play.
If we want to grow, we need to step outside our norm, and try things that feel downright unnatural at first. We maintain neuroplasticity (needed for a healthy brain) by constantly stepping into the unknown. The more we have internal agreement, the more likely we will have the energy to take ourselves in new directions – and potentially lessen resistance to change.
Every part of us actually wants to awaken. When we do our internal check-in, we are acknowledging that, and we are giving those parts of us we have previously ignored a say in what we do, when we do it, and how we go about reaching our goals. In this way, progress will happen, but the path might be different than the dominant persona projected, and possibly richer, more fulfilling and with some interesting twists along the way!