New Year, Old You?

This first month of the year can bring such hope for a fresh start. Maybe you are hoping for a new health routine, a reset on your financial goals, maybe it’s a new approach to self-care or relationships. Perhaps it is that long-awaited goal on the horizon but, you know it’s going to take some very hard work and discipline to get there.

So, if you are going to start out the new year with these kinds of goals, it’s going to require a new you, right?

Well, not exactly.

The accomplishment of any change we ever make in life is a culmination of all the experiences, successes, and “failures” that got us there. With each year, each season of our lives, we gather information that helps shape our priorities and set goals for the future. Yes, the new self is great but, our old self went through some really important things to get there, and she doesn’t just want to exist in shame. So, as a way of reconciling old experiences with your new, desired changes, let’s consider a few examples:

For those aiming for a new health routine, bravo! It’s such a worthy goal to take care of the one body you’ve been given. However, rather than shaming the old you who was not as fit or healthy as you desired, remember all you accomplished during those years when stress, sickness, or obligations took you away from exercising or eating as you desired.

For those pushing reset on your financial goals, great! It is such a smart idea to figure out a budget and stick to it. But rather than criticizing the old less-savvy you, remember how you bravely went to school, started that lower-paying entry-level job, or bought the transportation you desperately needed (but maybe couldn’t quite afford) to get to and from work. You know better now so you’ll do better but, consider compassion toward those other choices that brought you where you are today.

For those hoping to change their social interaction patterns and/or relationships, fantastic! Healthy interpersonal skills are a huge part of a satisfying life experience. But remember that whatever patterns you are trying to change were probably picked up at some point because they made sense then. They kept you safe, they played the game you had to play, they were all you knew. Be patient with your old self, you’re learning something you’ve never known before.

To desire a new you who is healthier, happier, and making wise choices is a good thing. Just don’t let wherever you are headed shadow the trail of survival behind you. Your full story, and the wisdom you can glean from it, are valuable for informing the goals ahead.

May we have the wisdom and compassion to graciously reconcile our old self and our old experiences, rather than shaming them. Our new self will appreciate the welcome wholeness.

January 13, 2022. By Anne Rulo, Author, Speaker, Therapist. FB/IG/Twitter @annemrulo

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