I think we all want a quick and dirty how-to list for happiness—especially as a new year begins when we are filled with motivation to start on a more committed path, to complete those things we have dragged our feet on over the past year.
We want to embrace the available surge of excitement to really get into the nuts and bolts of making change.
So we make a resolution, we even write it down and take some first steps towards our goals, but then something gets in the way—our inner resistance to let go of what is familiar.
Skipping over dealing with the hard stuff of change may be a wishful fantasy, but I know it just doesn’t work.
Alas, the truth is we don’t change, we don’t grow and we don’t move forward without putting in some soulful exploration of ourselves.
If we really want to live a joyful, connected and meaningful life, we have to delve into our inner belief system that gets in the way of that.
I admit entering into this territory is not for the faint of heart. It is in this place that our deepest fears surface. The ones we try to hide from others as best we can.
Brené Brown, a shame and vulnerability researcher and author, believes that the bottom line of it all is: “If we want to live and love with our whole hearts, and if we want to engage with the world from a place of worthiness, we have to talk about the things that get in the way—especially shame, fear and vulnerability.”
As a regular swimmer for many years, I see a significant increase in the numbers of people pulling into the recreation centre parking lot every January. The pool is filled with newbies buzzing about their New Year’s resolution to get more active and lose a few pounds.
But we are not privy to this new energy for very long.
By February, things are pretty much back to normal, as the majority of those new swimmers have stopped coming and the regular crew share a couple of familiar chuckles with each other.
So what really gets in our way? What is it that we honestly don’t want to wade into, and I don’t mean water.
The third stage of life delivers some unfamiliar territory. That always sets the stage for avoidance because let’s face it, we like our comfort zones. It takes courage to move out of them. Our feelings of unworthiness or never doing it good enough run deep and I admit it is a bit of a swampland in there.
We all want to bypass these feelings and so they present as resistance when we are called to move forward, but our inner navigator persists and keeps urging us to let go and wade in.
As I have renewed my commitment to approach elderhood with an openness to become more fully who I am, I know when I am resisting. I can’t lie to myself about it like I used to.
It takes making a choice each time I am called to dive in deep where some unworthiness lingers. Procrastination usually reigns its ugly head.
“Not again, not again”, my inner comfort couch sitter cries.
Talking and sharing this truth makes the resistance subside because we often outwardly take a stab at doing the right thing, but inwardly we are saying no to it.
Joining together, connecting with others is a proven way of making progress in doing what is best for us, for our children, our families, our organizations, and our communities. Shame and a resulting reluctance to feeling vulnerable, even as we reach the defined “golden years”, prevents us from living our best lives.
We’ve all learned a lot of “how to’s” over our middle years. Knowledge does give us power, but then what do we do with it as we move through the third stage of life? Well, that is what conscious eldering is all about. Putting all that knowledge into practice on a daily basis and letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embracing who we are. Brené Brown says choosing authenticity means:
• Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable
• Exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and
• Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.
The gifts of imperfection are identified as courage, compassion and connection. Before you leap into making external change, you may want to explore your inner landscape at a weekend workshop called the Gifts of Imperfection on Feb. 20 and 21 that I am offering. ”Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship” says author Brown and this is my intention for each participant of this upcoming workshop. Get in touch with me to see if this is the right thing at the right time for you.