Happy New Year. May this year bring you much joy, kindness, and blessings too many to count. January always feels like a fresh start to me. It’s an opportunity to look at where we can edit out what no longer serves us and invite in new experiences.
Last fall, I spent some time looking at what’s in my clothes closet because it was time for the annual clear out. While I feel very blessed to have a lot of clothes, some of them have been waiting for a turn for far too long. My lifestyle has changed a little during the pandemic and some of my pants seem to have shrunk, so it was time to evaluate what clothing matched my current life.
Timing is everything because as I was thinking about clearing out my closet, I received a call from a local charity, offering to pick up any clothing or household items I didn’t need any longer. All I had to do was leave bags on my porch and they would swing by and pick them up. In a flurry, I edited my wardrobe and my surplus gift drawer, filling bags and my heart, knowing that the beautiful items I was parting with would be well received by someone else.
We humans have a habit of hanging onto stuff, people, and situations sometimes for too long. We’re attached to the past because it’s familiar, so even when situations, relationships and sometimes pants are no longer a fit for our current life, we hang on, allowing these things to take up space that we really need for something or someone more in line with our current circumstances.
I understand the courage it takes to edit people and situations in our life that aren’t aligned with our current needs. It’s been a personal project of mine, over the last ten years or so. Sometimes, those of us who are recovering people pleasers must learn that unless a situation or a relationship is an enthusiastic yes then it’s really a no or a not right now. That means setting healthy boundaries to ensure we’re not compromising ourselves any further.
“If we don’t say yes authentically, we say yes resentfully, and that leads to far more problems than if we’d said no in the first place.”
In my experience, we must let some things and people go to create space for what truly reflects wherever we are right now. I love what Eckhart Tolle says about surrender: “To some people, surrender may have negative connotations, implying defeat, giving up, failing to rise to the challenges of life, becoming lethargic, and so on. True surrender, however, is something entirely different. It does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action.
“Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.”
When we yield to the flow of life, in other words, when we accept our circumstances instead of wishing our life could be different, we’re creating space for new opportunities and we’re setting ourselves up to take clear action toward the next steps on our adventure. At this time of year, we’ve been conditioned (I say conned) into thinking that if we make resolutions to change our habits or introduce new ones, we’ll finally achieve our dreams and goals. Then there’s the inevitable lunch bag letdown that sneaks in because the pressure is overwhelming, and we feel disappointed in ourselves once again because we didn’t get something right. It’s such a waste of our precious energy and time. Wouldn’t it feel better and be more productive to focus on some healthy thinking habits and take small action in the direction we want to be going in? For those of us who are recovering people pleasers, choosing to focus on saying no or not right now to an invitation that we really don’t want to accept is empowering. Practicing even this one thing will help you to feel increasingly convinced that the decisions you make are right for you. Choosing to prioritize your own health, happiness and well-being by saying no is not a negative, although at first it may feel that way. Trust me, with practice and kindness, this gets easier.
Habits become habits because we choose something repeatedly until it’s an engrained part of who we are. I wasn’t always a grateful person, I lived in a lack mindset for many decades of my life, thinking I didn’t have enough, I wasn’t enough, and I couldn’t do enough. The result was that I lacked happiness, enjoyment, and satisfaction. Once I started nurturing the habit of focusing on what I’m grateful for in my life, the results shifted. I started noticing all the ways I had enough because I had learned to count my blessings instead of noticing what was wrong with everything. I learned that I am enough exactly as I am, and I am doing enough because I’m committed to doing my best. It’s remarkable how powerful we human beings are when we acknowledge that life is a beautiful, challenging, dynamic experience and every one of us is deserving of all the good life has to offer; all we have to do is create space to receive it.