The beginning of a new year can really bring stagnation into stark relief but that’s not a reason to push yourself harder. It’s an invitation to look deeper. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
I recently read through my journals as part of an end-of-year ritual. I wanted to remind myself of the journey I’ve been on this past year and set out some intentions for 2022. The idea felt uplifting. The reality felt less so.
Going into the exercise, I knew I hadn’t reached some of the bigger milestones on my list. I’d made my peace with that. What I was less prepared for, was the discovery that the same buttons were being pushed for me – the same insecurities regularly popping up – in December 2020 and December 2021.
I thought I was over this stuff. I thought I’d processed and moved on. It turns out that the cycle was on repeat and I’d spent 2021 busy going nowhere. Or so it seemed.
I’m not messing around when it comes to the moves I’m making in life. This year I walked away from the industry that paid the bulk of my bills for 15 years, intending to step into a more aligned career with both feet. I hoped to begin bringing in significantly more money than ever before and, on top of that, to start loving my body – the same body I’ve had a fractious, borderline abusive relationship with for my entire adult life.
Those are just the first steps. I’m in the process of making seismic shifts. I began 2021 with these intentions. Now I’m carrying them over into this year.
From the outside, it could appear that I’ve made very little progress. My life doesn’t look particularly different to the way it did a year ago. It does, however, feel different. That’s not nothing.
Be the change you want to see in the world
When it comes down to it, all the changes we make to our physical reality, we make in order to alter our emotional experience.
Aren’t we all, ultimately, striving for our own versions of safe, comfortable and content?
As it happens, safety is one of the themes that has consistently showed up for me in the past year. I had a bump in the car; that prompted me to question and affirm how safe I feel in chaotic and stressful situations. I had surgery that required general anaesthetic, along with all of the safety fears that went with that. There were numerous other minor incidents that encouraged me to ruminate on my sense of safety and security.
Then, a few months ago, I made a doozy of a discovery. I realised I had always attached my sense of safety to my finances.
The belief I discovered, while on a routine excavation of my psyche, was,
‘I am safe, only when I have enough money’.
Added to that was the inevitable, anxiety inducing belief,
‘I never have enough money’.
I’m now relatively sure that, regardless of evidence to the contrary, those beliefs have remained pervasive throughout my entire adult life. As a result, I’ve rarely felt completely safe.
Thankfully, once I arrived at this realisation, I was able do something about it.
Rewiring my brain
Money and safety are not unrelated. There are times when a person could be objectively unsafe due to a lack of funds. However, I lead a privileged life in which this has never actually been the case. So, when I realised that those unfounded beliefs were living in my subconscious, I recognised that it was within my power to change that.
Over the next few weeks, I began to bring mindful awareness to every moment when I noticed that I was, objectively, safe.
I trained myself, so that while lying in bed with my partner, cooking in my cosy kitchen or playing with my nephew I’d notice and affirm, ‘here and now I am safe’. I’d take stock of how that felt in my body. In this way, I’d continuously reassure myself that, contrary to the belief previously encoded in my subconscious, I am safe and secure most of the time.
Those incidents I listed above – the car accident, the operation, etc – led me to this conclusion and shift in consciousness.
If I hadn’t reflected on and scrutinised them, I may never have noticed that they were all points on the same path but they would have been leading me, none the less.
One might ask, if nothing in my life has changed as a result of this realisation, can it be that significant? Does it, in fact, matter at all?
My answer is that it matters a lot. I feel safer now, every day, than I ever have. This impacts my experience of life in small, important ways. Imagine what it means for my nervous system. I’m healthier, as a result.
I mentioned that I have an intention to begin consistently earning significantly more money. I want to do that in a way that feels wholesome and helpful. I want it to be easy and enjoyable. I believe those things are possible.
For reasons unknown – most likely something I heard or witnessed in childhood – I’d been carrying around the belief that I need more money in order to be safe. That doesn’t sound relaxed, easy or even comfortable, does it? It wasn’t. It doesn’t sound like the ideal state for attracting financial abundance, does it? It wasn’t.
I’ve been a freelancer for a long time. My earnings vary year to year and, I now see, I have held this uncomfortable, unfounded belief even in my wealthiest years.
Money, most likely, could never have made me feel secure.
Now that I’m consciously aware of the belief, I see it to be untrue. I have spent time replacing it with genuine, embodied experiences of safety – showing myself how secure I already am and learning to recognise what it really is to feel safe.
I’ve laid new foundations. I am beginning to feel the way I thought I’d feel when I had more money. That’s important.
Life hasn’t changed much on the outside but, in large part, I’ve got what I wanted from this past year. I’m meeting the world as a person more secure in herself. I find I’m able to slow down and enjoy what I already have, much more as a result.
I feel more abundant already. I’d still like to increase the amount that I earn but I’m less needy and more comfortable. Shifts have begun to happen in my physical reality as a result and I have more trust that they will continue to do so.
This process, with this particular internal shift, isn’t the only one I’m undergoing either. We are all in constant motion, being gently (or not so gently) guided by the world, both around and inside us. Every lesson learned compounds the process of our soul’s evolution.
We are all in process
If you don’t feel as though you achieved your goals this past year, that’s ok.
If you’re not someone who reflects on every little bump in the road and its significance in the bigger picture of your life, the way that I do, that’s ok too. These things would have steered me in this general direction whether I’d been paying close attention or not. I genuinely believe that, ultimately, the universe supports us.
If, instead of bumps in the road, you fell into a cavernous pit that you feel you may never climb out of, well that’s not ok. That’s awful and I’m sorry. I hope you know that you can ask for help – from me, or from anyone else that intuitively comes to mind. You deserve love and support. I hope you know that you will get out. Even if you are changed by the time you do, and that’s ok.
I don’t do new year’s resolutions. Midwinter doesn’t feel, to me, like an appropriate moment for bold action. Look out of the window. The natural world has pulled all of its energy into its roots right now. If, like me, you’re called to go inward and reflect, I hope you will be gentle with yourself.
The seeds under the soil are as vital as the world in full bloom.