The holiday season is now in full swing. For most people, it’s a hectic time even when things are flowing well because a sizable increment of things to do has suddenly been added to already-overflowing lists. It’s not exactly a time that seems ideal for focusing on personal transformation, given the more immediate tasks that demand your attention.
And yet, in a certain way, the holiday season is an ideal time for personal transformation. The busy-ness of it provides the perfect opportunity for transforming how to relate to yourself when there are seemingly endless demands on your time.
I’ve noticed that, with many people, the more they expect of themselves, the more punitive they are with themselves for not meeting those expectations. It’s as if the sheer quantity of things to do gets the inner judge really excited, what with all the opportunities it provides for dropping the ball or making mistakes or flat-out forgetting things. What rich fodder for a judge-fest!
But that kind of fest is not at all fun, so let’s turn this around, shall we? Let’s transform the mindset of, “The more I have to do, the harder I have to be on myself to get it all done” to, “The more I have to do, the kinder I must be to myself in order to get what actually needs to be done, done with Grace.”
If you’re on board with me, then you’ve just opened the first portal of transformation:
The heart of intention is desire, and the body of intention is commitment. Loving commitment. You have to want to be kinder to yourself, and decide that you’re committed to it. (And, frankly, that you’re deserving of your own kindness.) I hope this one is really, really easy for you.
So now what? What’s the next step? Follow me, please. Just take a nice, big, deep breath and put a little Mona Lisa smile on your face. (Really, do that – and notice how you feel. Maybe a bit lighter and more relaxed?)
Welcome to the second portal of transformation:
This one is a bit more challenging than the first. What you need to do is imagine you can “turn up the dial,” so to speak, on your self-awareness, paying particular attention to the ways and times in which you are unkind or judgmental toward yourself. The reason this step is challenging is that, for many people, the unkind thoughts have become so familiar they just seem true. I assure you they are not.
But they can be difficult to detect, given how seamlessly they’re integrated with things you believe are true. The most direct way to uncover those thoughts is by paying attention to the way you feel – perhaps rushed, impatient, guilty or frustrated – and then noticing what you’re thinking at that time.
And just as importantly, noticing what other assumptions and conclusions lurk just beneath your initial conscious thought. For example, you may be feeling rushed and impatient, and the thought in your mind is, “I don’t have time for this!” (“This” being anything from standing in a long line at the grocery store, to waiting on hold for the Comcast representative to pick up your call, to your teenager’s stubborn refusal to do whatever you’ve asked him or her to to.)
Underneath that may be a constellation of other thoughts such as, “I shouldn’t have waited so long before I got started” or “Now I’m going to be further behind than I already am” or perhaps “I shouldn’t let this get to me!”