2016 was a big year.
Collectively, it was kind of rough. We faced an onslaught of bad news, negativity, and shifting norms without the essential heartening ingredient of an inspired public discourse that lights a clear path forward in a common understanding. In our personal lives, we felt more unsettled than usual (and our shifting collective foundation must have contributed to this). We seemed to feel our transitions a little more intensely, we were a little less sure of ourselves, and we sensed a certain loss of control over the direction our lives are going in.
Whether collective or personal, change at too rapid a clip can be overwhelming when it short circuits our natural ability to process our feelings, figure out what it all means, and plan our next move. We’ve been left searching for safety and security of the most fundamental kind as we prepare for the year to come.
The best thing we can do in the face of such uncertainty -- that will be our lifeline in times of trouble-- is this:
Find the place within ourselves where we are resolute in who we are and how we’re meant to serve this world.
That’s our sanctuary, and the rest of the answers of our lives will flow from there.
If we struggle with these questions of identity and purpose, we must remember that sometimes the best way to gain insight about ourselves is not by accumulating any sort of knowledge per se or even by pursuing these qualities head-on, but by making space for these answers to arrive naturally by letting go of other things -- circumstances and situations and relationships and behaviors and beliefs.
A single guiding impulse can help us decide what to let go of:
Let go of who we’re not.
As we apply this filter across different areas of our lives we will build an understanding of and relationship with our inner selves through a process of self-definition. There are two ways we can discover (and then declare) who we are and why we’re here. We either affirm and then act from a place of alignment with what we know about ourselves, or we release the ideas that are not true about us anymore -- identifiable by the pain or discomfort they cause us.
We can define ourselves as much by what say “No” to as by what we say “Yes” to.
In fact, saying “No” to something is itself a means of saying “Yes” to something else. This act of letting go allows us to automatically claim the relative opposite of whatever we’ve discarded, if we wish to.
Figuring out who you are and why you’re here in this way can take experimentation, practice, patience, and discernment. We’re going to have to feel our way through it sometimes, and we’re going to make mistakes. That’s okay. It’s all essential feedback we can use to get it more right the next time. The calming congruence of the outward expression of our inner knowing is a possibility through this ongoing exploration.
Let go with vigor. Let go with grace.
Let go of ideas we have about who we have to be, what matters most to us, and what makes us happy. Rewrite the narrative we’ve told to and about ourselves, in some cases for as long as we can remember, about what constitutes an inspired and successful life. When we do, we will kindly reject what is no longer true about us -- or what has never been true about us -- in favor of who we know ourselves to be now, in the present moment.
We can then invite that person more fully into being.
Sometimes this new part of ourselves will appear instantly, sometimes it will emerge more slowly, from the space that had previously held whatever aspect of our lives just didn’t seem to fit anymore.
It will involve pursuing answers to the same question said many different ways:
Who am I now? Who am I if my life changes in this way? Who am I with this person? Who am I within myself? Who am I if I let go of this aspect of who I am?
Who am I?
Who am I?
If we make one New Year’s resolution for 2017, let it be this: shed what no longer serves us.
Let’s discard the parts of our lives that are not in alignment with our inner knowing (aka true about us) anymore -- again, identifiable by the pain or discomfort they cause us. As we follow through on this commitment to ourselves over the next year, let us invite comfort, peace, and a quiet confidence into our lives at each turn instead.
Let us release the assumptions that diminish the possibilities of our lives, the habits that perpetuate the pain and discomfort we feel, the beliefs about ourselves and the world around us that keep us unfulfilled and floundering. Let’s identify them, challenge them, dismantle them, and let them go.
Then let’s step up to claim the people we’ve become.