A new year is coming! And I know everyone is all wrapped up in the horribleness of 2016 and getting ready to kick it to the curb... but... I say THANK YOU 2016 for the lessons you offered. Yes, there were losses, yes there was sadness and disappointment and death and violence and assault and some uncomfortable revelations... yes, there was hurt... yes, there were mistakes... as there are in every year as a part of humanity. But let's not forget the good parts... there were some of those remember? And from this particular combination of what some may call horribleness, growth has occurred... and will keep blooming as we move forward and continue to learn from it. I am not a victim. You are not a victim. Carrie Fisher was not a victim. 2016 has attacked no one. Let's not give away our power by claiming it has. I know, I know... "there she goes trying to put a positive spin on it." Just curb your gag reflex for a minute... I am not trying to spin anything. This is what I know... today IS beautiful. Every day is beautiful. 2016 is beautiful! And 2017 will be as well! Life is beautiful, no matter how ugly it may get at times. Ugly things do certainly happen, and I am not ignorant to them. I see hurt. I see pain. I feel these things and I am saddened by them, but I also accept their part in a process. And I have committed myself to helping others navigate that process. I am not gong to pretend to have all the answers... but I do know that there is purpose to even the most earth-shattering of experiences. And while we may not ever fully comprehend that purpose, we can find a way to play our role in it. Learn. Grow. Give. Be a part of the reason.
It was not that long ago that my life was completely different. I mean, not really, but it FELT completely different. Everything was horrible. I felt like I was drowning on a daily basis. Knocked down by wave after wave in a swirling tunnel of cold and darkness. Constantly thrashing but never breaking the surface... not even sure which way was up. Doubting that I could ever swim. I saw no end... no way out. Life was a constant struggle. Little things became monumental undertakings. Even when in the company of others, I felt horribly alone... disconnected... unable to connect... unable to experience joy. Dependent on medications to get through the demands of every day. I was afraid of everything. Everything was difficult. Everything ended in disaster. And all of it was always my fault. How could life get better if I could not be better? Clearly, I was flawed. How could anyone love me if I was unlovable? Life is difficult when it does not feel worth living. And now everything is beautiful! I clearly remember the shroud of the past, but today that shroud is lifted and I SEE! I do not "twist" things to the positive. I do not ruminate and search for the positive side of things... it is simply what I see.
I am not exactly sure where this shift happened... I believe it was gradual... but I do know how it began. It began by becoming aware of my thoughts. Do you know how many thoughts we have a day? Somewhere between 50 and 70K. Do you realize how many of those we aren't even paying attention to? I guarantee you that in the depths of depression I was not sitting there actively choosing to further my negative thoughts and opinions... I was not even aware that they began in me. It felt very much like an external force that I was fighting... who would hold their own head under water? And now from a place of happiness, I can easily say, "Choose happiness! See the positive! Embrace a new day!" But at the same time, I have a deep understanding of the fact that from the other side, one cannot perceive that there is a choice to be made. And these types of statements are often not understood by those who need them most. When we are unaware of our own thoughts they feel like something external. When we are drowning in our own emotions it does not seem an "option" to breathe. Emotions seem to spring up inside of us. They do not seem like a choice in any sense of the word because we are not even aware of the thoughts from which they begin. Bet every emotion begins as a thought. And thoughts are always occurring. They are there and they are affecting us.
The first step to creating happiness, to embracing a better day, or even a better year, is to start listening to ourselves. Notice what thoughts are dragging you down. How many times a day do you think, "I can't do this... I'm no good at that.... No one understands... I don't belong here... Will this day ever be over... This ALWAYS happens... Just MY luck... Im not ENOUGH... There's not ENOUGH... I don't deserve that...That's impossible..." --the list is endless. How often do you give into the feeling that something is the end-all of everything only to find that you survive? How many emotions do you rely on or accept without questioning the thought from which they came? How many negative assumptions are you making without verifying the facts? How many times a day do you assume what someone else is thinking about you or expects from you? And how often do you imagine that you're falling short? They are all thoughts... They are ONLY thoughts... and thoughts can be rewritten! Next time you feel really shitty... when you are having just an awful day... ask yourself what thoughts are creating that feeling. And then consider how rational they are. Find a loophole... and explore a better perspective. One that allows you to see the growth opportunity... or at least one that allows you to step into the next moment leaving all of that shittiness where it is. The more you do this, the more habitual it becomes. Once you become aware of your thoughts, your power to choose becomes apparent. And once we are able to recognize that we have a choice, we have the power to transform our lives! And it doesn't stop there! The more choices we embrace the power to make, the more conscious we become of other choices. As we begin to transform our own reality, we are better able to tap into our own innate resources and bring them out into the world so that we can better connect and through that connection begin working together to transform the world. One change ripples out to effect the whole.
So, I don't know about you, but I am done with all of this negative blame-casting on poor old 2016. The more we engage in this, even if we are doing it sarcastically, the more we encourage a victimized thought pattern. If there is anyone with the power to create a "better" future, it is up to each and every one of us... It is in our power to learn the lessons, to do the growing, to open our perceptions, to re-examine our thought processes and to create change. It is up to us to accept the past year just as we created it, and to begin exploring our options on how to create something different moving forward. My advice, is to start with your own thoughts. It may not seem like a way to change the world, but look for the ripple. Remember CHANGE starts within! Let it unfold in you!