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iStock 000000807067XSmallHappy New Year everyone!

As I write this we're in the middle of a heatwave in Melbourne and the kids are on school holidays. The Christmas/New Year period was busy as usual with family stuff, and a time to remember how fortunate we are and enjoy time with the kids.

As this is my first article for 2014, I wanted to write something inspiring, getting in touch with highest intentions, positivity and inspiration. It ended up rather too long, and evolved into four separate articles, so I'll put them out closer together than I usually do.

This article is about how we choose to think about last year, and how that will impact on our experience of the current year.

As I contemplate the year that has just ended and what has happened, and the vast list of things I want to achieve this year, I can choose how I think about it.

I can create a story that casts me as a victim, or I can create a story highlighting growth, achievement, love and happiness.

For the year that has passed, I can focus on what I didn't achieve, what I didn't enjoy, what went wrong, what was sad, what hurt me and so on, or I can focus on what I am proud of, what went well, what was joyful, what was fun, and all I have to be grateful for.

Last year, like so many people, I experienced disappointments, stresses, crappy things happening, feeling anxious and afraid, feeling rejected, feeling not good enough. People were mean to me, my kids were naughty at times, I freaked out a bit about some of my study stuff, I moved house to somewhere which is not really ideal and may have to do so again, my house got pretty messy at times, I put on weight, I had disappointing experiences, I felt lonely, my vertigo returned for a while, I felt sad at times, I felt overwhelmed sometimes, I felt the full weight of being a single mother, struggling at times, feeling judged (and actually being judged), having big plans but doubting myself, crying when my jeans wouldn't zip up and looking for new grey hairs and lines in my face.

 

And in the past, these things may have been most of my focus. I may have built a story around them, looked for people and things to blame for my awful life, or worst of all identified with them.

The same ideas apply to how we see what is going on in the world around us, by the way, but more about that in another article.

There is real potential for damage when we let our bullshit stories become part of how we see ourselves, who we think we are.

During the year that's just passed, I've observed a few people around me doing exactly that, identifying with their bullshit stories, externalising responsibility, focussing on and seeking significance from how hard done by they've been, and it baffled me, really baffled me, although I was very familiar with running these kinds of strategies myself.

And it dawned on me how far I have come in my own personal growth over the last few years. I realised that I DON'T (any more, though I'm by no means perfect), roll around in the negativity of every unpleasant feeling or setback or fear or doubt that comes along. I simply observe them, label them, and watch them float on by, as I repeatedly return to my newer, more constructive thought processes. I noticed that I'm better able than ever to observe feelings without the need to create a narrative around them – to justify them, explain them, rationalize them or externalize blame for them. I realised that I no longer identify with any of these kinds of things, that I no longer see them as what my life is made up of, but as small compared with what else is going on – the love, the growth and the learning.

Wow, cool huh. And this is what I wish for everyone!  For you and for myself I wish further steps towards emotional intelligence and better, healthier, saner thinking and functioning.

There will always be more personal growth for me to work on, and what I'm working on now is way ahead of where I was at a few years ago. So, getting to my first point, I encourage you to see how far you have come this past year, by listing everything you can think of to be happy about or grateful for that year, and every achievement, big or small, and I highly recommend you do this right now. You might want to revisit my old article Planning for a Great Year Ahead. Seriously – go do it, now, and then you can add that to the list because you'll see what I mean.

Here's a brief example from my lists:

Gratitude:

I live in a city I love, in one of the safest countries in the world with excellent health care.

My children are safe, healthy and happy. They know they are loved and have friends and family who care about them very much.

I am loved. I have family, I have friends, I have access to positive people to associate with who share my values and interests.

I'm healthy, I can read and write, I have access to the internet and any books and information I wish to read for my enjoyment and learning and growth.

I love my work as a Life Coach and Personal Development Writer. I get to talk to wonderful people and contribute to their personal growth journey. I get to write about anything I like, doing work which is strongly aligned with my values and my purpose and has great meaning to me.

We have a roof over our heads, good food to eat and all basic comforts.

We have pets in our lives who bring us a great deal of joy.

I have access to any kind of music I want to listen to.

I am surrounded by opportunity and potential.

Achievements:

I took care of my kids really well, we went on more outings, I met some amazing people, I nurtured friendships. I read a bunch of really cool books, I saw some great movies, I completed some study goals, I started some new study stuff, I worked with some really great people as coaching clients, I had some good quality coaching myself, I chucked out a lot of clutter, I played my guitar and sang more, I saw some great musical performances, I coped really well with some tough stuff, I made improvements to my websites, I wrote.

It goes on and on, but you get the idea.

We have a choice about what we identify with. We can identify with our strengths and successes, or we can identify with negative stuff. We can get stuck in the victim triangle of victim, perpetrator and rescuer, or we can be the adult, the detached observer.

Whatever we did or didn't achieve in 2013, we have a choice about how we see ourselves. Yes, it is important to take the learning available to us in any situation, and that we are able to see things as they really are, warts and all, but we don't have to identify with those things (and we certainly don't have to be so scared of our faults that we obsess with externalising them (see The Blame Game).

So, I don't see myself as a victim who was hard done by, I see myself as someone who took action and made difficult choices to change things for the better.

Instead of seeing a list of unfinished projects, I see wonderful potential for developing ideas and things to come.

I have not, for a long time now, identified myself as chronically depressed with an anxiety disorder. I see myself as someone who has worked hard to develop skills, tools, strategies and insights which empower me to choose my own emotional state and how I respond in any given situation.

I no longer apologise for my own existence, trying not to take up space, internalising blame, judgement and criticism directed at me, allowing it and inviting it. I see myself now as someone who is solid in living by my own values, having faith in my own choices and the loving intentions behind them.

So to sum up this part:

- List everything positive you can think of from 2013.  Gratitude and achievements, big or small.  For real.  Do it now.

- Know that you can choose the story you tell yourself, or whether there even needs to be a story about everything.

- Know that these things are strongly linked with your identity, and that if you want to experience love, happiness and peace, you will if you see yourself and others as worthy and deserving of these things.

Happy 2014 everyone. Peace, love and mungbeans. We are in the drivers seat of our own experience of life, whether we realise it or not. I know it can seem easier to be a passenger, but that's a cop out and we're better than that. 

Comments   

#3 Nana Dixie 2014-01-30 08:52
My family are reminding me that I am still at other people's command though
no longer paid for it. They ask that I
really retire and do what I have always
wanted to do and just postponed. So at
82 I am going to rearrange my thinking
and see what I want to spend my time on.
#2 Loretta David 2014-01-27 15:41
:lol: WOW! way to go YVette, I am so proud of you and your talents which I really appreciate! I just finished reading an e-book from a local organizer. 36 pages in large print included her story of coming to Canada with a small baby and no English, and finally setting up her organizing business at the age of 56. She has inspired me as have you. I guess great minds think alike, as she too mentioned about how our negative thoughts and being around negative people affects our lives and the title of her book is about Procrastination. I am also on the final chapter of a paper book called A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen. It too speaks of how we complain, blame and sit in negativity, all of which drains our energy and keeps us stuck and making excuses. Since we were able to get away for 2 mini breaks we have remained much more positive and not argueing. I am also trying to enjoy daily activities more with hubby and structure. I am the one who sets the tone, movies, Adult day program.
#1 latoya spears 2014-01-27 04:32
:-) thank you for sharing your testimony...thoughts and ideas. That was very refreshing to read and it gave a lot of insight to my own situations in my life that I need help with and that I've accomplished by doing the work. Hopefully we can chat more and help one another out looking forward to hear from you be bless.

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