As we come into the final stretch of the year, it brings a time of reflection to the fore. November saw me take three of my goals to completion. When we hit a goal, with it comes celebratory highs followed closely by…what now? It’s the perfect time to reflect on what you have learned, what you can take forward with you, and what you can leave behind. Here we are in December, a time of year we can tend to focus on what we haven’t achieved, or what others have, and what we don’t have or lack. Practicing gratitude around this month can at times prove testing. We are tired from a year of living, be it our best lives or, just our plain ‘ol lives.
Continuing on from my last posts Leading Yoself and A Seasonal Switch let’s look at how we might review our year better. Can we approach this with some joy, understanding and positive objectivity? I feel personally, this reflection happens unplanned, and crops up to surprise me when I am trying to relax and wind down after the busy festivities start to die down. It usually starts with a negative comparison, slathered with a side of pity partying, you know?, the woe is me tune…I fucking hate that tune, it’s so boring and repetitive, YET….oh so catchy!DAM IT! This year I want to head that off at the pass, as I reflect on November’s achievements, I’m going to take a look back at my year too.
I am taking a look at the tools I have been using this year to help me move forward. Have I gotten better at using them, do they support me, have I enjoyed the process? Rather than leap frogging to the goals I’ve hit or missed, I want to assess the new habits, rituals, tools, skills I have been using to guide and lead me. Have they helped? What have I learned about myself in the process of applying them? I think this is a really nice place to start, it stops you from immediately focusing in on things that haven’t happened, or gone to plan. You begin to look at your process. What has made a difference, what needs more attention, is there something you can let go of?
Passing the driving test has always been an absolute Everest of a challenge for me. Mainly because, I don’t actually want or need a car, right now, or have I over the past then years this has been looming over me. It’s been my third time going through this process, and second time taking the test. What was different this time? A cultivated awareness of my behaviour, thats what. I had better tools this time round, and although initially I entered into the challenge again with dread, I ended up enjoying the process a whole lot more.
Through future-self journaling I have been working on changing behaviours, learned reactions and old narratives. I began to see a pattern. An old narrative, I run straight to it, and looking back I see how I approach certain things when learning something new with this story. I play the blame game. I blame the person teaching me, taking every piece of feedback negatively and personally, completely missing anything positive, I shape the narrative into a story of them not believing I am good enough, to the point where it holds me back from my potential. I get so upset and angry, because I am reliving an old wound. I tell myself, I can’t, I’m not able to, I’m rubbish at this, not good enough, never will be. I create situations to back up this old tale, scratching that record again and again, not remotely aware that I am doing it. Does this sound familiar? Well, it brought me to ask myself WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?
After some digging, I got my answer. I realised what I was doing, and I was able to let go of that narrative. I still go nervous, and made mistakes, but it gave me the confidence to know that, the old narrative wasn’t true. My ever patient instructor was so supportive, and on the day of my test, I got an empathetic tester and a person who I knew, believed I could do it, that person was me. I attracted that energy and I created it by letting go of that old story. BU-BYE!
We have to understand that in every process of building something new be it a relationship/career/business, changing a behaviour, reaching for a goal, creating a habit, that we don’t have a linear growth line, peaks and troughs is what we get. How we make it through the setbacks and overcome the challenges is the interesting part,the meaty bit. Can we make this part of the journey more triumphant, feel, and yet still create joy and positive force throughout?
Our ability to communicate with ourselves, how we view our strengths, do we even know them? Can we put words to them? Have you ever tried to? Is your internal vocabulary nasty and waspish? I learned how I work in a group setting, how I approach leading, my style of it. Was given tools to discover descriptions and traits that I could identify with, I could look at life situations and positively say, yes, I do that. I also saw things that were perceived weaknesses, and was able to recognise when I struggled that it was because I was displaying that behaviour or trait. I took a personality test and used the Myers Briggs model geared toward business leadership styles. Both of these being useful tools to help show you your strengths, especially if you find it difficult pin pointing them.
Ten years ago I took a dog training course, and there I learned about extinction behaviour. Applying this principle to an old narrative, behaviour you want to change or simply getting through a dip in your journey can prove another handy tool. It’s basis being to remove actions that reinforce a pattern, do not impound the story by giving it attention and energy. Extinction bursts aka tantrums are par for the course, if we view them as just that, we have the power to allow them to pass. As time goes by they become less frequent and you become more adept to dealing with them. A version of this method is used in training babies into better sleeping patterns, and self soothing. Let us go forth and self sooth our souls.
Let’s reflect positively this year. Look at our approach, our process, our journey, what holds our attention, what patterns and narratives do we frequent, do we need to address something we missed, can we see all the wins, are we willing to champion our strengths, are we asking the right questions?
The end of the year always screeches in at full speed, we really don’t need to dive straight into a hive of comparison or self depreciation. Inspect your tool kit, celebrate how far you have come, bolster and identify your strengths, be objective, you are not a finished piece, laugh at the tantrums, breath into your energy. Smile at yourself; be grateful of your journey. Christmas and the festive season are about joy and giving…give yourself a break. Afford yourself the opportunity to reflect and review in a kind and caring way, nurture your soul and reflect with the view of flourishing growth.
You can adjust, adapt and grow, you are resilient and vibrant, believe it, you have the power within you to do so.