A few days ago, my son Gabriel was brainstorming ways to make money. Apparently he didn’t think he would receive enough for Christmas—not an amount adequate to purchase that mighty amazing electric guitar, anyway. And so, he was establishing various tasks by which he could fleece mother of as much money as possible. How about twenty dollars for a flushed toilet? How about another hundred to clean it—just the top, of course? Upon hearing too many refusals, he chose another recourse. A threat.
“Mom, if you don’t let me make money, I’ll become a lawyer when I grow up.”
I think the idea was that he could then sue me for everything I was worth.
Every January, the turn of the calendar is synonymous with the word “pause.” Most of us want our upcoming year to differ, at least in part, from the previous one. So we set resolutions.
A resolution is usually defined as a goal or a promise. We decree that this year, we’ll lose weight, meet a mate, break up a bad relationship, or exercise. That’s great—but we have to remember that another definition of the word is “the process of resolving something.” We can’t create the future until we embrace, reflect upon, and with kindness, release the past. And maybe, we need to make a few changes.
Most of us review the past as if flipping through the pages of a book once read, stopping at the turned-down corners to peruse the most important moments, lessons, and events. Some storylines are painful. Life is tragic. It is full of undeserved pain, hurt inflicted by others on us; and even worse, harm we’ve caused to others. Some narratives are happier. Life is comedic, glistening with the serendipitous. We seemingly can’t—or don’t know how—to have one without the other. If we really desire a better future, however, we have to be a little more intentional than simply read the highlights. We have to dig.
We have to dig for the selves we’ve buried.
We lose so much of ourselves on the way. That five-year-old who was hated by her mother? That ten-year-old who was yelled at by dad? That first real life partner, the one who cheated on us? We’ve left so many ages of ourselves behind, thinking we’re better off without them, when the truth is that whatever—whoever—we fail to bring “up to date” continues to run our lives. That five-year-old will continue to attract relationships based on hate. The ten-year-old has either become an alcoholic or partners with them. And broken hearts just keep on breaking—or breaking the hearts of others, don’t they? If someone hurts us, we’ll either hurt others the same way or become vulnerable to people who are all too happy to scald us with the same hot water.
New Year’s Eve is a perfect time to pay tribute to who we are and have been by listening to the “village within,” the various selves that have been hurt, damaged, confused, or treated with unrecognized kindness and civility. Taking an hour or two for quiet reflection is a good start. Sit in silence or listen to calming music and ask the unremembered selves to appear. There might be quite a queue.
Let each present him- or herself and ask what occurred that made them feel like they had to remain hidden in the past. Most of the time, your inner selves will present detrimental or abusive memories. Sometimes, however, they’ll hold up a joyful event, one you’ve forgotten to remember and so, are having a hard time repeating. As the adult in the process, treat the inner self in the way you wished an authority would have. If you are confused, ask your higher self to assist. This is the part of you that knows it is connected to God. Or ask the Divine to help more directly. Finally, remember to reflect on the word “change.” Are there any actions you should take to complete this healing? To alter the present so you can forge a more fruitful future?
We don’t always have to walk the road of the distant past. Sometimes more recent inner selves require a listening ear. Maybe we forgot to say, “I’m sorry,” to someone we love. Maybe we need to say the same to our self. Maybe we need to pepper the universe with more thank you’s.
Peering through the looking glass backward is only half of the New Year’s blitz. Once we’ve jettisoned the anchors to the past, we have to decide where we’re going to head. Why set sail without a course?
Most of us confine our goal setting to New Year’s Eve, but it’s not a process to rush. Pause. Take time to savor your desires, one at a time. Ask your heart if an objective is really all that important or if you’d rather spend the energy a different way. We might want to buy a new house, but do we need to? Is the outcome worth the effort? Might we be better off spending more time with our kids or taking up a hobby? There’s that negligent ten pounds. Do we really want to pretend that we’re going to shed them or would we rather work harder and buy a new wardrobe? If you don’t get an immediate answer, meditate on the subject for a few days. Let the process unfold the outcome.
It’s also important to examine the motives for our goals. It would be a sad world, for Gabe to become a lawyer just because he’s mad at his mother. The truth is that people we set objectives for the wrong reasons all the time and then live in regret, yet another way of hiding in the past. That potential artist? The writer? The super-duper accountant or horseback rider or business consultant? He or she is still secreted in a corner of our hearts while the adult self cloaks itself behind medical garb or apron or cowboy boots or some other attire that doesn’t suit us.
Above all, remember the “two sides” to resolutions. There’s the part that concerns the past and the part that regards the future. In the middle, is our divine self—the self that can be contacted in any pause. Between heartbeats. Between breaths. Between thoughts and actions. We can visit this place, this space within ourselves, once a year, like most people do. Or we can decide to live there.
Maybe Gabe won’t grow up to be a lawyer after all.