Now we’re all re-emerging from the traditional post-festive slump, do you find your thoughts automatically drifting to those things you want to improve this new year? We have already probably read, by now, the myriad of pop psychology suggestions to transform our existence – from writing a letter to your future self and making gratitude lists to mindful meditation, seeking your guardian angel and rebalancing your chakras.
Listen, I love this stuff and you won’t find any cynical sniffing from me if you tell me your goal next year is to explore your spirituality. Too few of us are stuck in a kind of two-dimensional hell of work and shopping with very little actual human connection in between.
And in the middle of a global pandemic, just the thought of starting over, recreating ourselves and leading happier, more fulfilling lives offers a glimmer of hope in the darkness.
But here’s the thing I want to suggest you try.
If you stop and listen closely to the voice in your head, that incessant chatter which is you (probably) berating, criticising and scolding yourself, you might notice something.
You say the same stuff over and over and over and over ……
Basically, you are retelling your life as a story in which you may not necessarily be playing the role you want to play. Is there someone else you have cast as the star whilst you have a mere walk-on part?
If you think about your history, your past, it is a collection of memories you’ve put together seen from just one perspective – yours. We can never know exactly what someone else is feeling. Their behaviour may give clues, of course, but nevertheless, the only person we can truly begin to understand is ourselves.
Some of the people we find most inspiring, whether they are celebrities or members of our family, have the ability to make their own sunshine. They put a positive spin on everything that happens. They are the ‘silver lining people’.
Hands up, on occasion, I find ‘silver lining people’ extremely annoying but in my more sanguine moments, I acknowledge that they are definitely on to something.
So, rather than retell yourself ghastly tales of past times when you were the fall guy, the stooge, the fool, where you let your light be eclipsed by someone with all the brightness of a 20-watt bulb, why not put a twist in the tale?
Ask yourself. If I were to rewrite this, what would have happened? And, in future, when you think of that time, tell yourself this new story.
If the old version of events has a terrible hold on you, see yourself writing it down then pick up the paper, scrunch it into a ball and chuck it over your shoulder.
Or pretend you have set it on fire and those horrid memories have literally gone up in smoke.
As you look to your future, why not write yourself the story of the year now, complete with a list of what WILL happen. I don’t mean a bucket list. I mean a list of glorious, golden outcomes. Actually, writing a letter to your future self is a great idea because it will give you something to look back on to see how far you’ve come.
Faith and positive thinking may make your dreams happen.
We are adult and know that there are no guarantees in life but, equally, to live with an optimistic view where you let in the light has to be better than starting another year in a fug of gloomy despondency.
January is such a dark, dank month. We miss the sun and the light both emotionally and physically. Those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) must feel this loss of light even more and, once the Christmas bonhomie has passed, there is a tendency for those of us who suffer from depression to sink into a deeper pit of our own hopelessness and melancholy.
But if we look around us, the best-loved stories are still there and are a testament to our eternal belief that good triumphs over evil, that light always wins out over darkness.
I am thinking not just of religion but of the Harry Potter stories and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
If we can let ourselves enter their worlds and believe so willingly, why don’t we write our own sagas and recast ourselves as heroes and heroines?
Ultimately you know, we’ve all got the Force.