It’s the new year. People have been talking about 2021 since March of 2020, and here we are. I’m definitely full of gratitude! You may feel different, you may not. And this is actually a very important thing to notice today, because the internet has been flooded with pictures of ornaments of dumpster fires and 2020 on them, or pushing away 2020, or wanting to run into 2021.
Here’s a little hint: even though yes, this past year was especially rough (at least in my lifetime), this is pretty much what we humans always do. We wait for the new year, the new job or relationship. When we get there, we notice that the flip of the calendar doesn’t actually make us FEEL different. We are the same. We haven’t actually changed anything, and yet we expect things to feel different. So we move on to the next purchase, the next goal, always feeling dissatisfied. This year, It’s amplified because of all of the challenges and drama of 2020. Everything is bigger in 2020.
So what do we usually do?
We decide next year will be different! We start the year making resolutions. How things are going to be different and how we are going to be different. Maybe it’s that you will exercise an hour a day! Or that you will eat healthier, eat less sugar, or sleep more. It’s the cycle that we do. We suffer in some way: we aren’t happy, we beat ourselves up, we get tired of feeling so horrible, so we vow to make a change. Then we self-pressure ourselves (usually again with beating ourselves up to make it happen or do something different if we are not doing it perfectly) and then BAM! We need to escape so we are back to using our old coping mechanisms (sugar, chips, YouTube, Netflix, social media, etc).
Here’s what I want you to consider. There is another way. And that’s what I want to spend the next 4 podcast episodes discussing what happens and how to walk yourself gently and compassionately into what you really want in your life. This is how to make change. Each episode will build on the last and we’ll make small steps make change sustainable.
This series is providing the foundation for a life of health and wellness. It’s all about integrating actions into everyday life. It’s not about adding one more thing to your already busy and crowded day. This is the work of Whole Body Upgrade. This is the journey we are going to take over the next four weeks, to make sustainable change in your life.
The ability to change all comes from a place of love. It starts with Love. Because what you start with is what you have. If hating yourself led to change, you would have changed a long time ago.
If “hate” feels like a strong word, and you are thinking “I don’t hate myself. That’s ridiculous.” then substitute the word “yelling.” For example, the critical voice in my head may say, “Come on, get up and get something done!” This is self pressure and it’s not kind or loving. Often people think that nice has to mean getting what you want or giving in. It’s “nice” to give yourself a pass from moving your body for the 5th day in a row. Or it’s nice to eat a slice of chocolate cake for breakfast.
In reality, this is not caring or nurturing (or loving). My kids love cake, but they aren’t allowed to eat it for breakfast. I don’t see it as kind, compassionate, or nurturing for them to do that to their bodies. I love them too much for them not to take good care of themselves. I also would not yell at them if they got cake out of the fridge. I’d say something like, “oh sweetie, that’s not good for your body, let’s get something that will give you energy all morning long!”
If you are having trouble picturing it, picture yourself as a small child (like 3 or 4). If the voice in your head feels a little harsh for a young child, then it’s time to start changing the voice. When I want my children to do something (especially if it is new or hard), I’m going to hold their hands and be there with them as they do the hard thing. I’m not going to let them out of doing the hard thing, but I’m also not going to yell at them to get the hard thing done. That’s love. That’s compassion.
So here’s the trick: first, you have to notice that self-pressuring voice or even the emotions or sensations that come with that pressure. You may not notice the voice first. You may first feel overwhelmed, anxious, or like you “have to” do/be/get something. When you notice the emotion, the sensations in the body, or the voice telling you to do something, then I’m going to ask you to say something kind and compassionate with yourself. “I love you no matter what” or “I see you trying so hard” or “I’m here to help” If it doesn’t feel like relief in your body, then try playing with the phrase by adding “I’m learning to…” or “maybe”.
If just listening to this makes your body tense, your heart race, and feel like too much, then I would like to offer you another option. Gratitude. This can be about yourself. For example, “I’m grateful I moved my body this morning. I’m grateful that I’m trying so hard. I’m grateful that I’m listening to this podcast.”
The power of a gratitude list
Practice writing down three things on a gratitude list for every day. Writing it or speaking it into a voice memo is powerful: don’t just think it. There is actually a good-sized body of literature supporting the psychological benefits of having a daily gratitude practice, and how it can help lead to change. Think of new things each day, which causes your mind to search for the good and creates new neuronal connections which helps to build your happy brain (and really, who doesn’t want a happy brain?!). It can be as simple as I’m grateful to be breathing, or for the roof over my head, running water, the warm clothes, or for the pretty candle, thanking the trees and the clouds. You can start or end your day with this. Try this gratitude practice every day for a week to begin with and see what you notice.
It’s a small change that isn’t taking a lot of time, but it does require you to take an action that is different than what you are currently doing. If it feels hard just say “Thank you” to every object you touch.
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough. – Meister Eckhart
It really does boil down to this. Thank you. Thank you body for breathing. Thank you mouth for chewing. Thank you hands. Thank you sky. Thank you. Start small and notice what happens.
This is the first step in setting up a life of health and wellness. Remember, it’s not about adding one more thing to your already busy and crowded day, it’s about upgrading your life. This is the work of whole body upgrade. This is the journey we are going to take over the next four weeks, so you can see how to shift small areas to make change and make health part of the everyday life. Small changes, big results.