The end of the year is commonly a time when many of us reflect on how we’ve spent the last twelve months: what we’ve learned, how we’ve grown, our wins and successes, and also the things that haven’t gone as planned, the people or things that have hurt or disappointed us, and the ways we haven’t lived up to the past year’s goals. It can be a difficult time of year emotionally.
Over the year, we have compiled tools and tips you can use. Please check out our Discover U Podcast with Rabbi JD Kalmenson, CEO Montare BH, discoverupodcast.com. Our inspirational messages can be heard on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts, or click on the media page above.
A Time to Take Stock
This year, our reflections might carry the extra weight of 20 months of pandemic stresses—both the collective and individual losses we have all experienced—bringing additional anxiety to an already fraught time of year.
Yes, it can be useful to take stock now and then, and to reflect on what we’d like to change, and it’s essential to do so in a way that is healthy and life-affirming. It’s important to be kind to ourselves in the process. We probably already feel bad enough about not sticking to the work-out schedule we imagined for ourselves, or getting the job promotion, or expanding our social circle the way we’d hoped. We don’t need the additional self-judgment on top of it.
The end of the year is a natural time to declare “Out with the old, in with the new,” as the New Year symbolizes a fresh start, and the shared uplift of new beginnings. Riding that wave of hopeful, fresh, positive energy, is the best way to proceed.
It’s a simple law of physics that two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. The practice of clearing space has taken on such popularity recently. Marie Kondo’s notion of clearing clutter, with the recommendation of tossing things that don’t “spark joy,” is definitely a worthy pursuit. Clearing our physical spaces can be very liberating. Sorting through our things and discarding or giving away what doesn’t add goodness to our lives, signals to our brains with physical action, that we are serious about making changes.
And clearing space opens us up to bring in new things!
As helpful as the physical clearing is, however, decluttering our minds is just as key to our well-being, and perhaps a bit trickier. Identifying and releasing deeply held beliefs and self-sabotaging habits takes determination, practice, and oftentimes, support.
Well-meaning friends can offer the advice, “just let go and go with the flow.” Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Like a lot of things, it’s easier said than done. What holds us in the familiar, even if it’s not healthy or comfortable, is most often fear—fear of the unknown.
Having a Dependable Anchor
Having a foundation that you can absolutely trust and count on to be there for you as you go through changes is one of the most valuable resources you can give yourself.
Be it a relationship with a family member, friend or therapist, a nurturing, safe home, a religious faith/community, a savings account—having at least one person or thing in your life that gives you a sense of security will go a long way in allowing yourself the freedom to leave past habits behind and try new approaches.
Facing a Cluttered Mind
Getting clear on exactly what is cluttering your mind is a process that demands patience. We are all unique in our experiences, histories, and our genetic inheritances. Some of us need more stability and predictability than others. Learning to stay with your thoughts and feelings, even when they are unpleasant, is ultimately healing. Trying to ignore, distract yourself from, or push down your negative emotions will only extend your suffering.
Three Things You Might Consider Letting Go Of
Letting go is a process. Awareness is the first step. When you notice that you are feeling or thinking some of the following, congratulate yourself! Then, tell yourself how much freer you will feel if you allow the thought or feeling to wash through you, and you release its hold on you.
Resentment keeps us locked in the past. Keep in mind that when you choose to forgive, you’re doing it to set yourself free, not for the other person.
Self-doubt is something most of us feel, whether it is once in a while or every hour of every day. If your self-doubt is holding you back from expanding your life in ways that you desire, know that you have a choice in how much you pay attention to that inner doubting voice. It may take some ferocity, but you can push back on the critical voices and find your inner champion who will cheer you on.
When we judge and compare ourselves to others, we are putting our own value system on them. We have no way of knowing all of the influences that have led others to make the choices they have. We have no way of knowing what their inner experience is. Comparing ourselves to others’ accomplishments does not advance our development. Instead of hanging on to the “grass is always greener on the other side,” how about adopting the adage, “the grass is always greener where you water it.
Of course, there are many more things we can choose to let go of when we are ready and willing to. Your list can be as long or as short as you want it to be. The most important thing is to allow yourself to feel proud of the accomplishments you have made in the past year—even if they are relatively small in your mind. And to remember that every single time you fail, you can learn something. When asked about his numerous failures, Thomas Edison famously responded, “I have not failed, I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”
We at Montare wish you a season of warmth, health, laughter, new adventures, and the courage to let go of anything that stands in the way of your dreams. We’re here to help anytime.