I’m an unabashed fan of New Year’s. It may in fact be my favorite holiday. I look forward to it over the holiday season, make lots of New Year’s resolutions, write them down, and share them with my closest friends. After New Year’s, I enjoy tracking my progress over the weeks and months ahead.
I figure, if I’m in the business of helping people change, I ought to know how. If I can’t change, how can I expect my clients to? Conversely, if my clients can benefit from all that knowledge, I can benefit too.
From experience both inside and outside the counseling room, I believe in the possibility of real transformation. I believe that possibility becomes a probability when the process of change is understood. Here are three of the secrets I use to make change not just possible, but probable:
1. I think of change in terms of becoming more of myself, more of who I am at my core. I don’t try to become someone else, or be more like others want me to be. As far as I can tell, those aspirations never work. One of my resolutions this year is to become a powerful public speaker. While I’m far from that reality today, it resonates with me—I can literally feel that potential inside.
I’ve been shy and reserved most of my life. I remember feeling invisible as a girl, scared rather than awestruck listening to my grandfather’s mighty sermons. Childhood beliefs and experiences have long blocked my ability to recognize and embrace my own power. In terms of public speaking, these old beliefs, fears, and lack of experience have hidden the potential I can now see has been inside me all along. Now that I’ve discovered that potential, I can feel it resonating, and I can go forward to realize it.
While I can’t become someone else that I admire or envy, the good news is the qualities I most admire in others are the very ones I have the most potential to embody myself. Who I am—my greatest potential—is the *me* that I would be happiest being. It’s the me that emerges when the junk that gets in the way—like old beliefs, fears, and negative relationship patterns—is removed.
2. I have the people and environment around me that I need to support me on my desired path. I’m aware that in reality I’m not independent and self-sufficient, like our culture would like to tell me I am or should be. Instead, I’m deeply dependent on the relationships and structures around me.
I’m confident my partner will be genuinely proud of me if I grow and will not be threatened by my progress. I’m confident I have his wholehearted support, emotionally and practically, which I’ll need to succeed. I’ve sought out teachers, mentors, and organizations that I will also need to move ahead. Lastly, I’ve created structure at work and in my daily life that carves out time, energy, and promptings to pursue my goals.
3. I’m working with my “inside,” exploring my own unconscious, in order to identify and resolve parts of me that would prefer to block my progress. We all have many different “parts” or “selves” within us. It’s normal that when some parts of us want to change, other parts, just as strong and sometimes insidiously invisible, don’t want change to happen. Such opposing parts within us are often devilishly successful in their fight to prevent us from reaching our goals.
Understanding that I have many parts, I’ve been working to get to know them all. I’ve been working to bring them together to function, not in conflict with each other, but in synchronous harmony. Understanding how challenging this work is, I seek help from professional guides (psychotherapists and meditation teachers) to uncover my hidden parts, heal them when they are carrying old wounds or beliefs, and develop mutual understanding and cooperation between them.
I’m confident I have a recipe that makes New Year’s a great time of year: a time to gratefully celebrate the growth and accomplishments of the past year, and to joyfully set new goals and intentions for the year ahead.
Many people refrain from the whole New Year’s resolution thing, knowing that after a few short days or weeks, the cold, hard reality of life will get in the way of success. But what if we all understood how to make real transformation happen? What if we could all be successful in continuing to grow? I’m passionate in my desire to help unlock the secrets to tapping that potential within all of us.