New Beginnings or New Endings?
Personally, the idea of “new beginnings” always rustles something up inside of myself. I think back to major life changes and even daily life changes and there is always a part of me that feels utter resistance to moving on to my next chapter. For me, my resistance is rooted in fear and sadness. What if I didn’t make the most out of my walk with my dog this morning? What if there was something more I could have enjoyed during my drive down to Boulder? It seems that there is always some thread keeping me from moving on to my next moment; I get stuck in one gear and for the life of me cannot find the clutch to shift up or down.
Recently, the moments in my day have been stringing together to trick me into a sense of sameness. Everyday started in the same slump. I had a major case of the “no’s” and did not want to move on to the next part of my day. It turns out, I kept looking for major transitions (leaving the house, entering work etc.) in my day instead of focusing on the little ones that lead up to the big ones (pouring my coffee, feeding the animals, heating up my car etc.). Eventually, this got really old. I was recently speaking with a mentor and they reminded me that every day we have limitless opportunities to begin anew. I have been told this multiple time before, yet it turns out I never actually understood it.
Serendipitously, I was reading the book Transitions by William Bridges and stumbled across a quote I had highlighted a year ago when I decided to “finally” tackle my resistance to change. It reads,
“Whether the source of the transition is an external change or your own inner development, the transition always starts with an ending. To become something else, you have to stop being what you are now; to start doing things a new way, you have to end the way you are doing them now; and to develop a new attitude or outlook, you have to let go of the old one you have now. Even though it sounds backwards, endings always come first. The first task is to let go (Bridges, pp. 80).
As I read this paragraph, I began to laugh out loud due to the irony that, as much as I continue to grow, I keep finding myself in the same--yet somewhat different--spot. Reflecting on our society and my own buy-in to the American culture, (as a blanket statement) we move so fast that we do not take time to honor and acknowledge our daily achievements and transitions. While we do have marked celebrations for major life transitions I find that we do not take time to celebrate the little transitions that turn into the big ones.
Every moment we are presented with an opportunity to start anew. Big changes occur when we begin to notice the little changes. An example that rings true for me in this moment are the thought patterns we have that keep us from reaching our full potential. My mind often spirals and I get stuck thinking the same negative things about myself, my situation and our planet on repeat. These thoughts keep me in a negative place for days, sometimes weeks before I find space to recognize that I am swirling in them again.
It is a tempting spiral to get sucked into; yet, with practice, it becomes somewhat humorous in a “ha, here we go again” type of way. For me, these negative thoughts represent an old way of being, a way of being I continue to work very hard to accept and move on from. It began with baby steps. I did not even know that these thoughts were having such an effect on my life until I started to track them. As I was tracking these patterns (what causes these thoughts to show up, how long do I think them), I found that no matter how hard I tried, I could not change them. I was speaking with another mentor about this and she asked me how I was honoring them. I looked at her like she had ten heads! Honor the thoughts that keep me from growing and being my true, authentic self? Yeah right.
For a while I outright refused to honor them. Once I began to truly get sick of the same old same old however, I began to become curious about how these negative thoughts might have actually helped me. At some point in my life, these negative thoughts got me through hardships. They offered me a space to feel sorry for myself, a space I lived in before I was ready to acknowledge and step into all that I can be. After a three-day solo in the woods I began to see these negative thoughts as gifts to my former self that no longer served the updated version of myself. Little by little, I began to recognize that these thoughts were standing in the way of me becoming me. While it is still a struggle, my relationship to these thoughts has evolved thus giving me space recognize that they are the sole thing keeping me from changing various aspects of my life.
By paying more attention to the little transitions in our life, we present ourselves breaks from the sameness. During these breaks, we begin to plant the seeds for change. Like an Oak tree, these seeds take time to grow. But with proper water and sunshine our new ideas and ways of being begin to grow.