New year, new me.
Really? Are we going to subject ourselves to this whole palaver - again?
Sure, the New Year definitely evokes a sense of new beginnings. It conjures up the feeling of a blank canvas, of untapped potential, of as-yet unknown future possibilities; which, I suppose, are the optimum conditions for a re-invention to take place.
But, I feel that if we look at this through the lens of linear time, that we run the risk of subscribing to a myopic perspective that involves a hyper-focus on the present as a moment in time that hangs completely independently of the past and of the future. The view that there are hard borders between years could have us missing out on something important.
Consider the developmental trajectory of the butterfly. We all know it starts out as a caterpillar, it gorges on food, it finds a decent spot to set up camp, it creates a chrysalis and then - boom - a butterfly emerges.
If we hit the pause button for a moment and rewind to the chrysalis part, I’d like to zoom into what’s actually going on here.
While inside the chrysalis, cells which had previously been dormant in the caterpillar - poetically named ‘imaginal cells’ - begin to increase and multiply in number. These cells are registered as a threat by the caterpillar’s immune system and they come under attack. Through what can only be described as sheer gumption, these imaginal cells connect with one another and convey information between each other while continuing to multiply as a group. The caterpillar literally dissolves and when the number of these cells reaches a tipping point, voila, a butterfly is born.
But the caterpillar isn’t separate from the goop in the chrysalis in the same way that it’s not separate from the butterfly. Yes, at every stage the creature takes on a new form, but each form is interrelated and interdependent.
Perhaps this is the perspective that would best serve us as we move into 2022: a perspective that takes into account everywhere we’ve been, everyone we’ve learnt from and everything we’ve struggled through as we honour both our caterpillar selves as well as our untapped potential.
Here’s my 5-step New Year, Same Old Me (ish) plan:
There can be a lot of shame connected to who we were in the past that holds us back. Although the past, in terms of time, is gone, it continues to live on in you; not just as shadows of memories but also physiologically in terms of the functioning of your nervous system. Feelings of shame, disappointment or regret can all dysregulate the nervous system and prevent you from feeling a sense of mental and emotional well-being. To re-regualte your nervous system, then, you can begin by honouring your past self. Be grateful for the mistakes you made and the learnings that came from them. Accept that you were doing the best you could with the knowledge that you had and, if you weren’t, offer that past self mercy and forgiveness. It’s not easy but as you gently offer nurturing acceptance and deep approval to these previously unloved parts of yourself, you set the stage for yourself to move forward with a really solid foundation. This is the beginning of the integration process.
Now focus on what’s already good in your life. What are you already doing well? Consider how you can build on it. And notice: is there fear of building on what’s good? It’s common to block the expression of our skills, gifts and talents - like the immune system of the caterpillar that attacks the imaginal cells when they begin to multiply and gain strength - for fear of judgement and rejection; for fear of being too much; because we fear the unknown. But, in the same way as the rejection of your shadow isn’t helpful, neither is the rejection of your light. This is the next step on the path to wholeness.
If there’s fear, work with it. Running from it isn’t going to get you anywhere. The more you run, the more menacing it feels. So tune into what you’re afraid of feeling or experiencing. Sit with the fear and give it a seat at the table. When you allow yourself to feel it and explore it, I promise that it will slowly begin to dissolve. I’d recommend working with psychosensory modalities such as EFT, Havening or Yoga to regulate this energy.
Reflect on all the positive changes you’ve already made throughout 2021. How can you integrate them more fully into your life? How can you calibrate to these states more fully? To achieve this, I’d recommend meditation, guided visualisations and EFT or Havening to anchor these new energies in your body.
Become your own greatest ally. Write a list of all the reasons why you’re proud of your journey so far and hopeful about where life is taking you.
Remember, while these suggestions take you through a process, there are layers to each step. This means that you might work your way to Step 3 only to realise that there’s more work to be done in Step 1. Similarly, you might find that you want to miss a step (or more) and come back to the other steps at another time. This is absolutely OK. What I’m presenting here are simply guidelines, not hard rules that must be followed. Ultimately, you know what’s best for you. Trust yourself.
As you embrace elements of your past, your present and your future, you get to build on your strengths as well as grow from previous experiences; mindful of where you’ve come from and with optimism for the future.
New Year, Same Old Me - ish.
For more information and videos on how to work with EFT or Havening you can check out my IG account. My handle is @anne.marie.morello
Photo Credit: Denisha Sandoval
New Year 2022