Most of us at one point or another have tried setting New Year’s goals or resolutions. You and I both know that many of us have also failed at accomplishing those resolutions once we set them. We might start out nice and strong but then when it really comes time for habituation to take place we waiver and return to our old routines, our old programs.
There are a few main schools of thought active in the public consciousness right now when it comes to changing oneself, and self-acceptance is an interesting buzz word that has got a lot of us confused about how to change in a nourishing way. Should we even want to change? Of course, we do, but does that mean we don’t accept ourselves? What does it mean for us to accept ourselves fully AND curate our own evolution? I’d like to explore two umbrella philosophies of change with you and hopefully, we can sift through the spell of confusion that this topic has on us.
The first concept has more to do with supporting desired change. The steps are:
Getting to know yourself as you are by cultivating self intimacy
- Accepting that your programs are what they are
- Observing the changes that are available to you in the present moment
- Recognizing which changes your programs will allow you to take part in successfully (this also includes available change opportunities that will eventually rewrite your programs)
- Using tools to navigate systems that help support you as those changes take place.
The second is much more focused on reaching an end goal by catalyzing change. This process involves:
- Choosing the desired outcome
- Mapping out the actionable steps required to attain and succeed at that goal
- Utilizing tools to navigate systems that will support you as you induce or force that change to occur
Both of these structures rely on the inevitable fact that change is always available to us. The first, recognizing that desirable changes are always actively available to us and always evolving as we evolve because of them, and the second, emphasizing our active ability to cause the changes we want to take place. The difference between the two is not whether change will happen for us. The difference actually has much more to do with the perceptions informing how we develop our methods of personal evolution.
Do we get to know ourselves so well that we are constantly aware of how we are evolving and support desired evolutions as we go? Or do we choose how we want to change first and then make it happen? This is the fundamental question we are asking. Instead of getting trapped within the actual process of changing or trying to change, we are now examining deeper than how we are changing and looking directly at why we relate to changing ourselves in the ways we currently do. This is the very process of evolution happening by way of increasing self-intimacy.
Try looking at it this way: change is not the end goal and it isn’t even the process to focus on. Increasing and mindful self-intimacy is! Change is a byproduct of being a human, and desired change is a byproduct of being in an intimate companionship with yourself.
It might seem like an insignificant difference, but let’s explore the real impact of thinking this way as opposed to the default pop-wellness is selling us. When we actively explore self-companionship every day our relationship to desired change shifts:
- We relieve pressure and fear of failure by not requiring ourselves to change in ways that don’t suit our operating system
- We increase success rates of evolving in ways we want to because we are actively participating in an evolution that comes naturally to us and one that our brain can more readily succeed in
- We alleviate emotional attachment to change allowing us to openly explore which behaviors we currently engage in that don’t match our chosen value system. This leaves us the space to respond to those unwanted behaviors in a more objective way because it’s all part of the self-intimacy journey. By the way, this is also the original embodiment of the often misused phrase…everything in life is a lesson.
- We give ourselves the chance to enjoy our own evolution. When evolution is no longer the goal, and instead we focus on self-exploration, we can actually enjoy and celebrate the evolutions that take place without the nagging insatiable need for more.
Gary John Bishop put it beautifully when he wrote that our brain is wired to succeed. When you think you’re “failing” at something, the subconscious brain actually thinks it is succeeding. You aren’t waking up early enough? Your brain might think it’s succeeding at giving you the rest you need. Feeling addicted to someone? Your brain thinks its succeeding at making you feel good and giving you something you physically want. Not able to stop eating sugar? Your brain thinks sugar is an essential part of your diet so it will fight to keep it as such.
Flipping the way we relate to our brain means treating our own selves as someone to get to know. How do you learn and evolve into a more loving partner? By becoming intimately familiar with your partner’s needs, thought processes, and value systems, and then responding IN REAL TIME. Your evolution into a more skilled partner isn’t the goal, getting to know them and responding to that process mindfully just naturally evolves you. It’s the same with our relationship to ourselves. All of the tools, they’re important. The systems, essential. But being fully immersed in the process and living every day as a companion to yourself, that is the meat of it. Or the fruit for those of you who are vegan.
This is mindful living, but it’s more than that. It’s being consciously aware of what mindfulness is, when and how you are actively practicing it, and what the impact of it could be in your life and the lives of everyone you impact. For 2020, I invite all of us to f*ck leveling up, and to instead level deeper.