Many people were happy to see 2016 end. It was stressful year, globally, with plenty of drama to go around for everyone. Looking toward the New Year there is always a hope that things will change for the better. However, before you can create something new, you must leave the old behind.
Every transition to something new requires that you “end” the old. You must let go of one trapeze bar you are holding before you can grab the new one coming your way.
We love the Zen story about two monks who were traveling through the countryside during the rainy season. Rounding a bend, they came across a muddy stream. Standing before it was a lovely woman dressed in flowing robes. “Here,” said one of the monks to the woman, “let me carry you across the water,” and he picked her up and carried her across.
He went along in silence with his fellow monk to their abbey. Later that evening the other monk suddenly said, “I think you made an error picking up that woman at the muddy stream. You know we are not supposed to have anything to do with women, and you held her close to you! You should not have done that.”
“How strange,” remarked the other monk. “I carried her only across the water. You are carrying her still.”
Staying mired in the old, with prior circumstances or a limiting mindset, can feel like being stuck in the mud. Letting go of endings is difficult because it is natural to identify with your past circumstances and experience. They “become you.”
Whether it is a job loss, an end to a relationship, a child going to college, moving to another city or your candidate losing an election, life is full of endings.
Endings that are not acknowledged or understood can send you jumping into the “next thing” to avoid the pain and grief of the loss. This can be a formula for redoing the drama of the past event (or something similar) over and over again!
How do you work with endings in your life? Do you deny them and feel victimized by them? Or do you want to avoid the pain by forcing yourself and others to just “be happy” (which can be aligned with the Rescuer role)?
You may try to manage and control the situation by taking charge, plunging ahead and not looking back. This strategy aligns with the Persecutor—trying to control every detail of the situation or wallowing in the old with blame and judgment.
The cycle of endings and beginnings is fundamental to nature. The leaves fall, the branch lies dormant and it buds again in the spring.
Carrying your 2016 drama with you into the New Year goes against that natural cycle. It will not empower you to create something new.
Pause now and list a few things that are ending for you, and include even small items. (For instance, your favorite coffee shop closed which ended your morning coffee routine.)
We did this and discovered we had a full page of items that were naturally ending in 2016, and, items that we declared were ending, by choice. Remember to also list patterns of thought that are ending (e.g. complaining, or focusing on what might go wrong), as well as events or circumstances.
Reflecting upon what is ending for you in 2016 clears the way for new beginnings and allows the Creator in you to emerge in 2017.
Happy New Year!