“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”—Socrates (a character in Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman)
For the record, the words above weren’t penned by the philosopher Socrates, but rather by a character with the same name in a book I have not yet read. I stopped scrolling when I came across the quote on my Instagram, half-hoped it indeed was passed down by the Greek classic, but regardless, instantly liked it—yet with strings attached.
The part of me that rebels against the meaning of the words is the same part of me that finds value in taking an honest inventory of my past, tracing back to the roots, and playing archeologist by excavating all the “whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys, and hows.” These “excavations” have, in many ways, enabled me to make sense of my present existence. They have led me to discover deeper parts of my faith and strengthened my relationship with others and myself. Hence, it could be said that much of my energy has typically been devoted to “fighting the old.”
Yet at the same time, digging up the past will only get you so far (or at least it does for me). Anytime one sets out to create new rhythms, memories, habits, relationships, mindsets, and so forth, there has to be some sort of resolve to be intentional, take action, and resist inertia to make lasting changes.
So, here we are, fully into the new year. Maybe the “new year, new me”-isms are fading away as the goals and bucket list items seem further out of reach. If that’s the case for you, just remember: “the new” can be built any time you want, not just at the beginning of each year.
And you know what else? You can tweak those new habits you’re establishing. You can pivot, readjust, and follow a different path if what you first set out to do isn’t working or doesn’t feel true to you any longer.
But first, you need to figure out what you want to build to experience the changes you’re chasing.
Here Are 3 New Things I’m Building:
Reversing Negative Self-Talk
I’ve written before about my relationship with the “bully voice” who is the inner critic that wags her finger and attempts to be the perpetual killjoy of any sparkly new endeavor or adventure that comes my way. We all house a critical voice that rises up in different ways and at various times. Sometimes the voice speaks common sense and tells us to reel in some restraint. But other times, the “bully voice” can go rogue, and that’s when negative self-talk becomes habitual—often without us being fully aware of what’s happening.
The drive to feed myself positive words stems from what research and experience teach me. If you’re a geek like me, you may be fascinated with the plastic, ever-changing nature of our brains, and how our thoughts and words create new neural pathways. In other words, how we speak to ourselves affects us not only at the emotional level but also at the physiological level. The more we feed ourselves healthy, life-affirming words, the more our brains change for the better and we see ourselves more clearly in the way our Creator does.
With that said, recognizing and reversing negative self-talk is high on my list of new habits this year.
Radical Acceptance of What Is
Before the new year rolled in, a friend and I spoke about what we hoped to bring with us and what we wanted to leave behind. The past few years were rough for us as a collective, as our typical ways of life were severely ruptured. Many of us suffered the loss of loved ones, relationships, and for all of us, freedom and normalcy. Co-hosts Darlene and Julie discuss something similar on the final episode of This Grit and Grace Life in 2019: New Year, Strong You! How to Reflect on Your Year in a Helpful Way – 114. Listen here:
As we process it all, practicing pure acceptance can move us forward instead of remaining stuck in all the nooks and crannies of the past. Radical acceptance mean embracing a new reality and declaring, “What’s been done is done. I can’t make it different, better, or more. I can, however, decide what I’ll do next.”
They say that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Mindset is everything, and along with that, acceptance.
Sticking with Love
One of my all-time favorite quotes was spoken by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that. And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems.”
I want to be a woman known for enormous love radiating from every cell of my body. It sounds idealistic and even cheesy, but isn’t love what humankind desperately needs? Sticking with love is choosing forgiveness when a grudge is warranted. Sticking with love is choosing patience when it’s the end of the day and my kids are in a feral state. Sticking with love is choosing to champion others when I’m tempted to compare.
Sticking with love is built inch-by-inch, layer-by-layer, brick-by-brick.
If you’re reading this, it means your heart is beating and there’s still breath in your lungs, so you can change your life by building something new. We can look back to our past to help make sense of our present. We can honor the old instead of fighting against it. But, to make the lasting changes we’re after, we need to use our energy to build the new. I can’t wait to hear what you’re building this year.
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Ready to feel better about your new path forward? Start here: What’s Stopping You From Loving Yourself? How to Grow Self-Love – 120