Let’s get honest and ask ourselves the question, What really makes this year any different?
If you’re anything like me you probably have already tried a million things to fix yourself, and your life. You have read countless books, been to all the seminars, and you have every t-shirt and every mug. What is it you’ve been doing? You’ve been trying to just get over it – the divorce, the bad childhood, the sickness, the thing that just didn’t work out. I really hope this is finally “my year,” your heart whispers every January.
But why should it be your year? What makes this year different? Have you paid your dues? Have you have finally suffered enough? If that was the way this worked, there are plenty of people in the world that have suffered more than you or me, and they are surely ahead of us in line for the New Year magic. Thank goodness that’s not how it works because I’m pretty sure I would be far down the waiting list, and you probably would be too!
What if I told you that this is your year? That actually every year can be your year!
I too used to get ridiculously excited about the New Year. I am not kidding when I say I was over the top. I had naive expectations of a fairytale transformation from just one flip of the calendar page. It was a big let down every time. By about March, I would have to reluctantly concede that it was indeed the same old life, just a different year. It took me decades to realize that each new year isn’t magic, our lives don’t change until we do.
Transformation is supernatural.
The definition of “transformation” is — a process of profound and radical change.
Real and lasting change is a process, and nobody likes the word process. It immediately implies discomfort and work, and we tend to run from that word when at all possible. Allow me to reframe the word process for you so that you can begin to embrace it, and all the wonder that it truly implies. We live in a culture where everyone wants a drive through transformation. We pull up to the self-help book section and say, “I will have the number seven please, a beautiful, fulfilling life, happy marriage, great kids, and can I add a side of well-toned abs. Thank you!”
If only it worked this way, but it doesn’t.
Transformation looks more like a cocoon. We all love butterflies but do you know what happens inside that cocoon?
First of all, the caterpillar disintegrates, it releases enzymes that break down its body into a gooey mess. If you were to peek inside (please don’t) you would see caterpillar soup! You would not see anything that suggests what it once was or even a hint of what it might become. We are talking organized chaos here! A complete overhaul. A total rebirth. All that was is abandoned in exchange for what will be. This type of upgrade doesn’t come easily; it certainly doesn’t come from buying a book or attending a workshop. It requires an all-in attitude and a supernatural surrender to a divine process that begins when we say YES.
The opposite of process is the quick fix.
The quick fix is a very attractive option because the process is often associated with pain and nobody likes to be in pain. Most of us will do almost anything to avoid feeling any type of discomfort. And why shouldn’t we, we live in a society of pharmaceuticals, there’s a magic pill for everything.
Don’t believe it? Watch Prime Time television, and you will see an advertisement for every disease and disorder in the universe (many you’ve never even heard of) and its matching miracle pill. Sounds good right? Just don’t read the small print! Don’t get me wrong I’m not against medication; I even went to college to be a prescribing Psychologist. But I abandoned that field of study when I realized that it was all about treating the symptoms and never about getting to the root of the problem.
That’s what a quick fix will do for you. It will deal with your symptoms. It will push back the discomfort for a while. You have a headache; you take an Aleve. Poof the headache is gone, or is it? It sure feels like it’s gone, but the reason for the headache isn’t gone, i.e., stress, eye strain, bad diet, but because now you have masked the pain you are fooled into believing the problem is solved.
Pain is not your problem; actually, pain is your friend.
I remember when I came to understand this rather oxymoronic revelation about pain. I was watching a documentary about a little girl who had a rare genetic disorder that prevented her from being able to feel pain. Sounds like an amazing condition to have, right? Wrong!
This child lived a very impaired and limited life simply because she didn’t have to ability to receive the important warning signals we refer to as pain. She couldn’t even participate in the simplest daily activities without close supervision. Brushing her teeth became a serious situation when coupled with the inability to feel whether or not she was applying too much pressure. What about playing on the playground? Seems safe enough. But if she can’t feel pain, she would never know if she was overdoing it, if she had twisted her ankle while running or whether that playful push from another child actually caused an injury. Now playing on the playground became dangerous without pain setting the physical boundaries necessary to keep her safe from harm.
So you see, pain is actually a gift.
It’s like that engine light on your car that begins to flash when there is something that needs your attention. It is a warning, a continuous reminder that something is not right, something is out of alignment, and if you don’t stop and take a deeper look at what’s happening you could be headed for some trouble.
It’s time to stop hoping for the quick fix, the big break, the magic new year bullet of happiness, and embrace the process. Stop trying to skip the messy and painful bits and realize the sooner you surrender, the faster you can get to the good stuff. Ask your heart what pain you have been avoiding, what engine light have you been ignoring hoping it would just go away. It’s gonna hurt, but I promise only temporarily.
You can do this; this is your year, it always has been.
After all, the New Year magic has always been there. It’s been in you all along.