It's February! Month two of a New Year, a new hope, a horizon full of endless possibilities, but you wake up in the morning, wipe the sleep from your eyes, glance back at yourself in the mirror and sigh. There it is, sitting on your shoulders: the pressure to make this year "The year". The year that you finally (fill in the blank) ____________ get sober, fall in love, lose weight, get out of debt, make partner, get that promotion, have a baby, get married, graduate, exercise more, travel, forgive someone. Sometimes the weight of that "this is the year when_____" is more crippling that it is encouraging. Perhaps it's just so overwhelming you're unsure where to begin.
"You must master a new way of thinking before you can master a new way to be." -Marianne Williamson
A new way of thinking could sound like an impossible and complex feat, but it's actually quite simple. See this piece taken from "The Neuroscience of Changing Toxic Thinking Patterns" by Athena Staick, PhD.
You need a way, a conscious way of observing your self and life, a conscious method of regularly imparting life-energizing thoughts into your mind as often as possible.
Notably, your subconscious mind treats your thoughts and beliefs as tentative directives or commands. It relies on your thoughts to form your perceptions.
Thoughts influence change because they shape how you relate (respond, react, etc.) to events and life in and around you. As perceptions, your thoughts are stop and go lights for the cells of your brain (and body) known as neurons.
According to Dr. Staick, we need to work on both our conscious mind and our perceptions, or our subconscious mind in order to see notable change in our thinking. Let's say you have always perceived yourself as unlovable. Whether you have directly been told you are unlovable by someone, or people's actions (rejection, neglect, criticism, etc...) have been consistent enough throughout your life that you have developed a belief that you are unlovable. First off, you are absolutely lovable, just because you are you! The next good news is that YOU are able to change this toxic thought pattern!
Take it one day at a time and even if you don't believe it at first, that's ok. But when you look in the mirror recite a mantra of self-love and self-acceptance. Say it everyday. Stick it on your mirror at home, in the kitchen, in your car, your office, in your wallet. Let this be the new neuron bridge that controls what thoughts are allowed to register in your brain. If you perceive and believe yourself to be worthy of love then rejection, neglect, criticism and the like won't make a bed in your brain. They will pass through, but not make a home, because the door to the home in your brain says "Worthy of Love".
Use or modify the following to suit your needs:
"I am lovable. I am accepted. I am worthy of love. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am smart and complete. No one can define my worth unless I allow them to, and I revoke giving permission to _____________(insert person's name who made you feel unlovable) to define my worth. I am worthy of love, just as I am."
Once we can begin to master our thoughts, then we don't apply as much pressure on ourselves to accomplish ____________ (insert thing you think will make you more awesome) in order to feel lovable or whole or complete. Losing those extra pounds that bother you isn't what defines your lovability, but it could give you more self-confidence. Making partner doesn't make you worthy - you already know you're worthy, so making partner simply becomes a bonus. Even with addiction, getting sober isn't what will make one lovable. You're already lovable (believe it or not!). If getting sober is your goal, it absolutely could add so much more to your life, but it's terribly difficult to navigate sobriety when one feels unworthy. You're already worthy of love and belonging and accomplishing whatever goals you aspire towards just becomes another shiny star on your already sparkling crown, which has always sat atop your head. Go ahead....go look. That crown has always been there, because you have always been worthy of love.
So first, may we learn to master a new way of thinking, believing that we are already enough, and worthy of love, so that we can master a new way of being.