This is a time that could be used for quiet reflection. The mad rush before Christmas, the even madder rush to exchange gift vouchers and unwanted presents for other things on Boxing Day, but it’s not yet New Year’s Eve. So, I invite you to slow down a little and take some time to sit down with a journal a reflect on the past year.
It could be that you start with all the things that didn’t go to plan or live up to your expectations. Where there more than the previous year? Chances are that there were some things that you wished would have been different.
Surely, nobody enjoyed the lockdowns or Covid notifications. We were so sure at the end of 2020 that it could only get better. Boy, were we in for a nasty surprise! But before you get all hyped up for 2022, let’s do two things. First let’s acknowledge the things that did work out in 2021 and second, let’s see how we can tweak our expectations so that we won’t be disappointed.
Okay, so what went well in 2021? It’s easy to just let the main outside events dictate how we feel about an entire year. I know that I sometimes sound like a broken record, but I can’t stress it enough. If we allow or choose to only notice the negatives, we won’t remember any of the positives. We are negatively wired in our brain for survival reasons, and it’s easy to lose track of the good stuff.
I recommend looking at the various sectors of your life (for example, family and friends, work or career, self-development, health, hobbies, or interests, and more). For each sector find 10 things that went well in 2021.
Write them down in a long list. If you do this for each sector of your life, you could end up with between 80 to 100 good memories. Fascinating, isn’t it. Maybe 2021 wasn’t that bad after all.
Now, of course, I recognise the frustration, sadness and grief of the negative things that happened. I don’t deny or ignore those. It is important not only to acknowledge those things but also work through the emotions associated with them.
It could be lost opportunities that won’t come back in the same way. For example, it could be the missed opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one or spending time with young children, who inevitably grow up quickly and are in a different stage of life now. Ask yourself, what is the emotion that is here. Don’t just stop at frustration or anger. These tend to be surface emotions that can distract you from the deeper emotions that need to be felt in order to work through the trauma associated with the event.
A lot of people shy away from meeting deeper emotions such as grief or terrifying fear. I can assure you from own experience and from working with clients, these emotions can be intense, yes, but they also don’t last forever. Like any emotion, the unwanted ones don’t hang around any longer than the one we don’t want to end. However, if we don’t allow the deeper emotions to come to the surface, and we keep stuffing them down, they tend to fester within you. Although, you may not feel their intensity, you will feel uneasy, subdued, or even depressed for longer.
Use your journal and write down what the negative emotions is. Imagine you could invite the emotion to sit with you, and ask it, what does it want, what is its message for you. Maybe there’s a lesson to be learnt here. If you feel uninspired about a possible lesson, go on YouTube and listen to one of the Near-Death Experiences Videos (just one though, don’t get sucked into watching videos for three hours).
Typically, people who have experienced a close encounter with death, come back reporting having changed their life due to having learnt something. So, instead of having to go through a near death experience, get the life lesson through journaling and reflecting. Key is understanding that negative emotions are not something to avoid or deny but that they are messengers to learn something or change something.
Many people have trouble accepting the underlying lesson of events they don’t view as favourable for their lives. It’s easy to sympathise with them. Nobody wants to lose their livelihood due to government restrictions on their business. And yet, there might be a lesson in it. For example, at the end of last year, 2020, I was thinking about renting premises for my massage clinic in Sydney. I looked and found somewhere that looked suitable. But I couldn’t get it to work out, and it didn’t eventuate. I was frustrated about it and felt a range of negative emotions. However, looking back on 2021, I must say, it was good that it didn’t happen, because I would have had to close these potential premises for most of the year. Yes, I lost most of my business this year, but I also had other opportunities that I wouldn’t have recognised if I had pursued the massage clinic.
Now, let’s think about the nature of the things that tend to frustrate us. You will notice that these are outside events. Basically, these are the very things we cannot control. Life happens, whether we want it or not and whether we wish for things to happen or not to happen. Rather than getting perpetually worked up about these outside events, let’s concentrate on what’s going on inside.
Happiness is an inside job. It really depends on how we deal with stuff internally. It depends on how much we are prepared to recognise our own emotions as the messenger rather than an outside event. Once we have made peace with our emotions both negative and positive, we can act in the outside world from a different internal state.
As always, please reach out if you need a hand with any of the suggested exercises. I’m here to support you in your journey to inner freedom.
Wishing you a peaceful time between the years, and a healthy and happy 2022,