I’m a sucker for a new year. I’m also a big resolution maker, even if, more often than not, I don’t end up keeping them. There’s just something about that sleepy week between Christmas and New Year’s – the quiet time to dream and plan, the calendar full of unblemished days – that fills me with hope. For a brief time, I recover the feeling (growing more elusive with each passing year) that anything is possible.
I started writing a New Year’s post for this blog at least half a dozen times, only to cast each one aside because it felt dishonest, or I wasn’t sure what I was trying to say. I tried to write a sort of 2022 year-in-review retrospective, but it just made me tired. 2022 was a tiring year. And anyway, now that we’re six days into 2023, I really think it’s time to look forward rather than back, don’t you?
Recently, I had a session with an intuitive healer, for help with low-grade anxiety that has become increasingly unmanageable. In the session, the healer (Whitney) told me that I’ve been traveling with unconscious fear my whole life. That worrying is, in fact, my comfort zone. As soon as I heard her say it, I knew it was true. Worrying about the future is the way I try to control it. As in, if I worry about something it either: a) won’t happen or b.) won’t blindside me when it does.
But the worrying has reached a tipping point. Not only is trying to control the future a pointless exercise, but it has left me totally unable to enjoy the present moment. Even when things are good, I can’t relax, because I’m always bracing for some inevitable disaster. It’s exhausting, and I hate it.
I’m desperate to unlearn this lifelong pattern, but I know it won’t be easy. Whitney suggested a sort of “fake it til I make it” approach: whenever I start worrying, I simply repeat the phrase “All is Well” as many times as I need to until I feel better. Even if I don’t believe it, over time, the simple repetition of “All is Well” will have the power to reprogram my brain’s default that nothing is well. At least, that’s the hope.
On New Year’s Eve, I decided to choose a word to be my theme for 2023. I just closed my eyes and picked the first word that came to mind. That word was “Trust.”
It turns out that “Trust” is a nice companion to “All is Well.” Here’s how it works: this year, I’m going to trust that my life is unfolding as it is meant to. I’m going to trust that it’s not too late for me, that I’m not falling behind on some imaginary timeline. I’m going to trust in my ability to handle whatever’s coming down the road. And most importantly, I’m going to trust the intuitive voice that says, “This is right” and “This is wrong.”
If I think about it, that intuitive voice has been a reliable guide, when I’m brave enough to listen to her. She helped me leap into the unknown and take some big scary risks in my life, including turning down a “safe” corporate job that was totally wrong for me, moving to New York City after eighteen years (!) in Los Angeles, and going back to school for a master’s degree at the age of thirty-nine.
Normally, I approach each new year with a whole host of resolutions. Big plans, big dreams, big goals for the year ahead. And while there are still some important things I’d like to check off my bucket list, I also recognize that this sort of obsessive planning is just another way of trying to control the future. So, this year I’m trying something different. This year my only resolution is that one word: Trust. I will breathe it in and out like a mantra, letting it carry me through every big decision, every moment of uncertainty. Trusting – even if it means I have to fake it til I make it – that All is Well.
Happy New Year, friends.
So great to see you back, and I can totally relate to your feeling!
Thank you, Laura! And I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe you can join me in my New Year’s practice? All is well. All is well. All is well. ❤️❤️
Love this. Thanks for sharing your vulnerable truth so honestly. Beautiful post. Happy New Year SK.
Thank you Zoe! Happy New Year! 😘
I know the anxiety you describe only too well. That seemed to go hand in hand with my negative inner dialogue, the harsher I spoke to myself, the more anxious I’d beco.e about the future and possibly failing, then getting criticized for it.
When I looked deeper into this, I discovered that because I had internalized all the criticism, the negative comments said to me, and the abusiveness I had lived through, I sunconsciously continued where my abusers had left off, and so my anxieties would spiral.
Rewiring the brain through how we speak to ourselves is real. It works! Each time we mindfully do it, we’re creating new neural pathways, and with enough repetition they become our new go-to’s, and the old patterns gradually fade away from disuse!
Keep going! You’re going to be able to do this!
I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve been through, but I’m grateful for your willingness to share your experience. It sounds like you are in a better place now (through your own mindfulness and hard work) and that gives me hope. Thank you so much for your encouragement, and as always, thank you for reading. I wish you many blessings in 2023!
My pleasure Sarah!
I felt abandoned back in those days, either I couldn’t afford care or if I was able to get it, the people seemed uninterested in helping me.
Then one day I thought I could possibly help myself. Since I had no idea how to deal with the entire scope of my healing or growth, I figured that if I started with just one thing that I could move onto another.
The thing I chose was teaching myself to like myself. Learning to love myself seemed too daunting so I settled on learning to like myself.
When I first started everything I did felt awkward and uncomfortable. It was all so unnatural to me. Since everything seemed to trigger panic attacks and deep emotions, I had to go very slowly and very gently.
I observed that I spoke very harshly and critically to myself. When I sat with that for a bit, I realized that I had internalized all the criticism and abuse and was continuing where my abusers had left off.
So, one of the first things I practiced was trying to get through a whole day without speaking harshly to myself. I call it practicing suspending judgment on myself.
I also started with very gentle but believable positive quotes, to start dripping in some positive thoughts.
This was very difficult in the beginning, but gradually I became accustomed to it and was able to progress to more and more positive thoughts.
It’s a learning curve.
Tamara, that is so incredible and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your process. ❤️ It’s a learning curve, indeed.
Thank you for giving me the space to do so Sarah. I try to share whenever possible, to help others find their way too.
Happy New Year, Sarah! So lovely to see a post from you. I relate so much to your words here. I, too, spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about the future and, recently, worrying about situations in the past where I didn’t react in the best way. Worrying about the past and the future in one go 😅 It sounds silly when I write it down.
A New Year has brought change for me as I settle into the new daily rhythm of living with my partner, and moving out from sharing a house with my mum. I’m acutely aware that she is getting older and time is finite, and this has really made me aware of all the times I was living with her when I was impatient and caught up in my own stuff, work stress, general busyness… etc. It’s all made me feel quite emotional recently. Thank you for sharing your experience here. I have been making a conscious effort to self-soothe in times when I feel overwhelmed by emotion, so I’ll try the “All is Well” approach.
I hope all is well with you.
Happy New Year! Worrying about the past and the future at the same time doesn’t sound that silly to me – I do it myself all the time! A friend recently recommended the book The Untethered Soul. Have you read it? I’ve only just started it but it’s all about mindfulness, and how to stop letting our thoughts control us. I think it’s a nice companion to the “All is Well” mantra, and a reminder that healing anxious thoughts is a practice.
Congratulations on making the change and moving in with your partner! And with regard to your Mum, try not to beat yourself up about past behavior. The important thing is to celebrate and nurture your relationship while she’s here, and you still have time to make amends for anything you may regret. We can’t change the past, but we can move into the present with intention and love.
All the best to you! ❤️
Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. It made me tear up a little because when I read it, I felt heard. I appreciate it! I haven’t read The Untethered Soul but I searched it just now and it reminded me of Pema Chödrön’s work, which I’d like to explore soon.
You’re right that it’s a practice, and it takes time to rewire the brain. There’s something wonderful about the fact that we can go through life and develop new neural pathways. It doesn’t have to stop at a certain age.
I hope you have a great 2023! Look forward to hopefully reading more posts from you soon.
Happy New Year! I can totally relate, I have the same issue, I am going to use your mantra! Thank you for writing about it xx
It’s nice to hear from you! I’m sorry to hear that you struggle with anxiety too (it seems that there are a lot of us), but I do believe we can rewire our brains with regular, positive self talk. Let’s practice together in 2023! ❤️