There has to be Endings to create New Beginnings
Whether it’s a new job, a new relationship, or a change of city or country to live in, a new beginning will always signify an ending of some sort.
How do you view endings? As something exciting or terrible?
Endings inevitably bring about change. Sometimes there might be a reluctance to change, and at other times we might embrace the change and new beginning.
Perhaps how we view the change depends on the element of control that we have over the ending and the new beginning.
If the control has been taken away from you, then you are bound to feel that the ending is a loss.
There may be a period of regret or grief; think the ending of a relationship.
How could this possibly be a good thing or a ‘new beginning’ – I hear you cry. But if you dig deep you might realise that change and a new beginning was needed. To make room for new habits, relationships, or jobs… then we have to change the old ways.
Change Takes Time
Much of it is about acceptance. To accept change, we have to try not to fight it. Allow yourself to grieve, rage, be angry… whatever it is that you feel about the ending is OK. Once you realise that those emotions won’t be with you forever, once you allow yourself to feel them, you then realise that you can move on. Embrace the change and begin anew.
Sometimes, we might cling onto the idea of the ending for fear of what it may bring. Possible scenarios play out endlessly and rumination can be draining. Scenes and images play out in loops in our minds and we are unsure about what we feel.
For some people, they would prefer to wait until the decision is made for them. Yet you know deep down that the ending is what you need.
Fear holds you back; fear of making the ‘wrong’ decision, fear of the unknown, fear of emotions that may arise from the decision, and fear of leaping out of the all too familiar comfort zone.
Once you decide on change, then you no longer have to wonder. The decision has been made and you can find some relief.
Now is the time to be brave and accept that you made that decision. If the decision was made for you, then it is time to accept.
Try to view it as though the path that you were on was simply not for you. Is there anything good to come out of the ending? Maybe it’s time to sit down and make a list of all the good that can happen now that there has been the ending. You didn’t have to make a decision, but now you can look forward to starting anew.
New beginnings and endings can also signal a change in routine and habits. We are creatures of habit, and for most of us having a predictable routine can be a comfort, even if we are bored of it and know we need to change.
The end of a career or a relationship might mean that we have to create a new routine; we might have vast amounts of weekends to ourselves when once we shared the time with a partner, or we may have to rethink our work schedule and how we are going to fit family and commuting into that.
Starting a new routine can feel scary. More thought has to go into the routine, and we may be left with emotions that we’ve not had to deal with in a while such as: overwhelm, anxiety, fear, and the best and some maybe not so, but think about how much you have grown… and learnt, from these changes. When you reflect on what you have been through in your life, you know that you can get through this ending too, emerge, and begin again.
Acceptance does not mean liking, wanting, choosing, or supporting.
No one is suggesting you like, want, or support whatever it is that you’re accepting. But by struggling against the pain—by resisting and rejecting it—we create undue suffering. It doesn’t mean that you’ve chosen or endorse what you’re accepting. It doesn’t mean you like your anxiety, want your chronic pain, would choose your body, or support an injustice that’s happened to you or someone else.
Rather, you’re choosing to allow it to be there when you can’t change it in that moment. To make space for it. To give yourself permission to be as you are, feel what you feel, or have experienced what you’ve experienced without creating unproductive shame or anxiety. The pain might still be there, but some of the suffering will be alleviated.
Acceptance is an active process. It must be practiced.
Remember that accept is a verb. It’s an active process, one that must be practiced consciously. It’s rare that we one day choose to accept our emotional or physical pain, our bodies, our difficult relationships, or our pasts, and never think about it again.
It can require effort at times (or most of the time, at least initially). It can be frustrating at times. But, like creating a clearing in a grass field by walking the same path many times, every time you practice acceptance toward something, you create and strengthen neural pathways in your brain, facilitating ease in the future.
It’s natural to vacillate back and forth between feelings of acceptance and feelings of resistance. Make space for the spectrum of experience, and notice your internal critic get quieter.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that you can’t work on changing things.
Many people believe that acceptance is a sign of apathy. Passivity. Giving up. Relinquishing. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Practicing acceptance does not necessarily mean you won’t be able to make a change. You can accept your body and still change it, accept your emotions and acknowledge their impermanence, and accept your behaviour one day when you might change it tomorrow.
Acceptance doesn’t mean you’re accepting it’s going to be that way forever.
A decade later, the relationship I now have with my dad is galaxies different from what it used to be. I wouldn’t say that’s due entirely to acceptance, but it does show that acceptance doesn’t always mean whatever you’re accepting will be that way forever.
Try to focus your acceptance on the present, alongside an open and realistic gaze at the future. Focusing too much on the present can be counterproductive, as a large part of acceptance involves letting go of the desire that things will change—detaching from hope that, in some cases, creates suffering. But sometimes imagining practicing acceptance forever can seem daunting, overwhelming, or impossible, so try to find that sweet spot where you’re accepting the current moment but not under the pretence that things will change in the future.
We can practice acceptance toward our experience, people, appearance, emotions, ideas, and more.
Acceptance can be practiced in all areas of your life: You can exercise it toward your current experience or reality, others’ beliefs or ideas, your appearance, your emotions, your health, your past, your thoughts, or other individuals.
Again, this doesn’t mean you necessarily endorse whatever it is that you’re accepting in these realms; rather, you recognize that you can’t change the current nature of this exact moment, and accepting manages anxiety and helps calm.
I encourage you to consider how acceptance has benefited your life in the past, and how you can practice it more in the present.
Rewiring our Neural Pathways
The principle of neuroplasticity—the power to create new pathways in the subconscious and conscious parts of our brain—it is the key to any deep and lasting shift in our habits and thinking. But what does this idea of neuroplasticity look like in practice?
Metacognition: The first step to rewiring your brain
If you want to know more about rewiring your brain to create new, healthier thought habits, the starting point has to involve an honest appraisal of your current thought patterns and behaviors. This is likely to involve some delving into your unconscious, raising deeply held, sometimes irrational and self-limiting beliefs to the surface so that you can examine them. There are a few ways you can help yourself to observe these beliefs at work. They include:
Journaling: Making a note of the repetitive thoughts that characterise your internal narrative throughout the day will help you “hear” the way you talk to yourself.
Practicing presence: Breath-based meditation, or another mindfulness-based practice, will help you learn to observe your thoughts rather than getting caught up in them.
Writing a list: Start with three things you want to achieve, along with any self-limiting thoughts you have that stop you from believing you can.
All of these practices will help you to develop metacognition. This skill is characterized by an ability to “think about thinking,” enabling you to become “aware of your awareness” rather than functioning on autopilot.
Often those who are most troubled by their lives and trapped within dysfunctional thinking find it difficult to develop this sense. Their thoughts feel literal in the sense that it may seem impossible to separate their perception of the world from its actuality.
But even for people who feel unable to see beyond their thought habits, these habits will help, over time, to foster a greater sense of perspective. Using journaling, meditation, and self-analysis, it is possible to develop a greater level of awareness about your neural pathways and the patterns in their activity that dictate how you unconsciously react to triggers and events.
Your default reactions may take the form of anger (you lose your temper), distancing (you shut down), displacement through “acting out” (binge eating), or it may point toward a healthier emotional life (you reach out for emotional support).
Working on yourself toward recognizing your unique reaction habits and the thoughts that underlie them will enhance your self-awareness and put you in a position to lay the groundwork to think and react in ways that serve you better in future.
How can we create new habits in our brains?
Creating an action board is a great way to help you focus your brain on the vision of your future that you act on to manifest. Visual images are a powerful way to communicate with your deep subconscious, so focusing on images that act as a visual metaphor for the things you want to manifest will help you find the confidence to seize opportunities when they present themselves.
Try to choose imagery that is symbolic when creating your board rather than thinking literally. For example, a loving relationship may be symbolized by a picture of holding hands, a greater sense of personal freedom may be represented by a kite in the sky, and enhanced confidence by a strong tree with deep roots. Make sure you look at your action board a few times a day, and as you look at it, imagine your dreams in the present, as if you have already achieved them.
Positive affirmations can be a helpful tool to help you replace insecurities and anxieties with encouraging mantras.
Whenever one of your habituated self-sabotaging thoughts intrudes, meet it with a calm repetition of a mantra that contradicts it. So, if your internal voice tells you, “I’m weak, so people always take advantage of me,” respond by repeating to yourself, “I’m learning to say no more to external requests so that I can say yes more to myself.”
Finally, when you’ve decided to embark on some changes, make yourself accountable for them by sharing your aims and ambitions with a friend or by using an app like Momentum or HabitShare. Commit to your new awareness-raising habits and tell your friends about your action board and affirmations. Ask them to check in with you from time to time so you can encourage each other and keep you both on track.
Now it’s your turn to review your own Wellbeing and setting your intentions.
My Wellbeing Wheel – Setting my Intentions
(Wheel, courtesy of The Chrysalis Effect)
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