In the new year, we can feel pressure to set resolutions given our culture's focus on setting goals to "be better." Beginning the new year when we may be coping with losses of many different kinds can bring up so much pain. Grieving the loss of a loved one, a job, a home, a friend or pet, an identity, or a dream, can make it very difficult to come up with doable resolutions or goals. When coping with loss, focusing on self-improvement is not reasonable or loving.
I suggest we begin 2022 giving ourselves the gift of a kinder, gentler approach.
Set an overall "intention"---in yoga philosophy this is known as a "sankalpa." This is an intention that is created from our "hearts desire"--not from something that we think we SHOULD do, but something that resides deep in our inner wise self that we WANT to do.
I suggest we consider an intention to be compassionate with ourselves. Imagine if everyone were more compassionate toward themselves, what a mighty change there could be in the world! Because what I do for one, I do for all.
Here are some ways you can intend to practice compassion toward yourself:
Let your feelings take up some space in your life- Processing emotion is an organic natural process if we loosen control. Your river of emotion will guide you where you need to go. Intend to let yourself experience your feelings without resisting them, changing them, or editing them to be more palatable for others--or even for yourself.
Rest when you are tired - Processing loss, grief, disappointment, is exhausting. Intend to give yourself time to rest and take breaks.
Give yourself permission to say no - Don't give in to pressure, even well-meaning, from others. Intend to do activities that feel right for you.
Give yourself permission to say yes - Say yes to nurturing yourself. Say yes to being kind to yourself. Say yes to being patient with yourself. This is not selfish, this is being loving toward yourself.
Be with people who "get it" - We all need to be with people who "get it." Seek out people who understand you and will listen to you without trying to "fix" your feelings. Expressing your feelings and sharing your experience with others can be very healing. Intending to return the favor can heal you too.
Be curious - Intend to try a small new thing. Step outside of your habits. Meet a neighbor for a cup of coffee, stroll through a quiet art gallery, learn a new word and use it, read a book about someone's story of overcoming loss and see what you learn.
Move - Loss settles in our bodies, and can get stuck in our bodies, too. Intend to keep emotion moving through your body by moving a bit each day. This is not physical exercise, but emotional and spiritual exercise! Walk, dance, swim, stretch, do some yoga. Sing!
Spend time outside in a park - When we are struggling with loss, we sometimes withdraw into ourselves. Nature is a powerful reminder that there is a larger world around us that knows how to move through seasons. We are designed to be able to move through loss, as meadow grasses know to reach towards the sun and bow down in a storm, as a bear knows to roam in summer and hunker down during winter. Intend to give yourself the gift of time spent in the natural world. Let the wind touch your skin, listen to a rippling river, look up at the vastness of the sky.
Breathe - Intend to remind yourself to breathe when you are experiencing intense emotions such as crying, anger, or loneliness. Inhale unconditional acceptance for how you are feeling at that moment, and exhale any expectations that you should feel anything other than what you feel. Inhale peace and calm, exhale any resistance to embracing exactly what you feel.
Intend to practice compassion toward yourself and notice the changes as you move through the seasons of your life in 2022.