Here’s to looking forward instead of backwards!

As 2009 comes to a close, it’s tempting for many of us to look back and to dwell on the hardships, the struggles, the turmoil or the uncertainties that we faced.  After-all, for many, we lost loved ones or we suffered the loss of a job.  Families watched as their loved ones went off to battle, and we all observed the devastating personal, economic, and global aftermath of fighting two wars.  For others, we battled the anxiety and depression that comes after struggling for years to hold on to a relationship or to a marriage that wasn’t meant to be or that we just couldn’t “fix.”  With our economy struggling to come back from a recession that hit everyone hard, it’s easy to sit and stew-over monies lost or retirements that dwindled over night.  And, with the hope of “change,” (despite the already observable many accomplishments of our new President) also came the reminder that “politics as usual” is deeply ingrained in our government and legislative stagnation can and does occur even in times when so many desperately need movement.    

However difficult 2009 might have been, I challenge all of us to dwell not on the hardship or struggles but rather relax into the idea that “it was what it was.”  In whatever ways you want to categorize 2009 (I can imagine the harsh descriptive words being used at this very moment), it was our reality.  For many of us, we had no control over such painful circumstances; for others, we may believe that somehow we contributed to or created our own suffering (that’s for another blog).  Regardless, we can’t go back and change what has already occurred.  

The more time we spend focusing or dwelling on the past, the more time we remain stuck and in turmoil.  I’m not suggesting that this is an easy task or simple exercise to accomplish; it certainly is not.  I am suggesting, however, that in order to move forward into the new year and in order to be present, we must try and let go.  Accepting the good, the bad, and the ugly for what it is and for what it was allows us to free up space and energy to feel and experience anew.  Remember the old saying, “Energy flows where attention goes?”  The more time we spend thinking, contemplating or hashing over what was or what could have been, the more time we spend stuck in the past with our focus derailed from the present and the future.  In that sense, we remain stuck in a hypothetical past (an unreal fantasy world) and we miss the real world moving forward with or without us.   

Acceptance is the only way that we can refocus our energy, attention, and consciousness toward what is happening now and what will come next. Accepting the difficult emotions that surfaced, the anxious thinking that kept us up at night, the compulsive or impulsive behaviors that masked difficult situations, and the grim experiences themselves will allow us to let go and to live more at peace in 2010.  Simply by stating and restating, “It is what it is,” or “It was what it was,” we allow acceptance to creep in and fill the space that was once occupied by pain, fear, resentment, or frustration. Calmness will follow as we find peace in what was—for many—a very difficult and trying year. 

My hope for all of us that faced some type of adversity in 2009 is that “acceptance” will be part of our New Year’s resolution.  It will allow us to move from thinking or believing that we somehow created, deserved, brought-on or became the victim of hardships and struggles; instead we will begin to see ourselves again as the resilient individuals that we are (in spite of the challenges that we face), and we will find renewed energy for a new year!  

Happy 2010!

Ryan

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