“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 a lot of my energy has been typically 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, responses, mindsets, and so forth, there has to be some sort of resolve to be intentional, take action, and resist inertia in order to make lasting changes.
So, here we are and 2020 is already 1/6th of the way finished. 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 it is you want to build in order to experience the changes you’re chasing.
Here are the three 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 critic voice that rises up in any number of ways and at various times; sometimes the voice is speaking common sense and telling 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 it.
The drive to feed myself positive words stems from what research and experience are teaching 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, the way we speak to ourselves affects us not only at the emotional level but at a physiological level too. 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 in to 2020 and what we wanted to leave behind. I’ll shoot straight and say 2019 was a year of rupture for me; there are still many aspects of the last year that left ripple effects and that I’m still processing through. [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!]
But to aid me in all the processing is entering a place of pure acceptance instead of allowing my mind to delve into all the nooks and crannies of the past. Radical acceptance is embracing my new reality and is saying, “What’s been done is done; I can’t make it different, better, or more. I can, however, decide what I’ll do next.”
As they say, 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 who is known by enormous love radiating from every cell of my body. It sounds idealistic and even cheesy but isn’t love what humankind is in desperate need of? 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 is still breath in your body; hence, you have the ability to build something new in your life. We can look back to our past in order to help make sense of our present; we can honor the old instead of fight against it. But, to make the lasting changes we’re after we need to use our energy to build the new. I’d love to hear what you’re building this year.
(Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Grit and Grace will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain our own.)
For related articles, start here:
3 Ways Positive Self-Talk Can Improve Your Life
Every Woman Is Unique, but This Is What We All Struggle With
This Is What I Learned About Love From 2 Great Men
A Woman’s Grit Is Her Biggest Asset for Success
Bible Verses From the Grit and Grace Team on Love
More articles for the strong woman living a grit and grace life:
Now Is the Time to Ignite Your Confidence
What Happened When This Mom Stopped Doing All the Things
5 Ways to Love Your Single Life
He Brings Me Flowers, but Is That Enough?
Ask Dr. Zoe – My Teen Stepdaughter Doesn’t Respect Me
You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: What’s Stopping You From Loving Yourself? How to Grow Self-Love – 120!