4 Practices for Starting Over
You can hit the reset button whenever you'd like... and now might be the perfect time.
“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” T. S. Eliot
Remember the cry "Do-Over?" It was how we got back to center when we played street games as a kid. Something was amiss and either side could call it, and although it didn’t promise any specific outcome, the ability to start again from a place everyone agreed was fair made any outcome reasonable. And while most of us can’t just call a do-over on most of what happens from one day to the next, it’s a worthwhile spirit to cultivate as we begin a new year. Borrowing from our childhood belief of what was always possible offers a novel emotional freedom to approach what we have created thus far and to look at it fairly.
What part of your relationship to yourself, your loved ones, or your career could stand a do over? Any of the following four practices will help jumpstart your ability to begin again, but not like the typical new years resolutions. Learning to let go of what no longer serves you, embracing the inevitable endings, and really experiencing and appreciating reality as it is, could stay with you throughout the new year. So try it– do over.
1. Go with the flow
This idea is a cliché for good reason. Allowing the tides in life to be what they are and giving up all behaviors that resemble pushing the river is perhaps the most healing single choice we can make in coming to our senses. The world is not going to conform to your reality by pushing it harder. People are not going to become who you want them to be by pulling away. Getting splashed in the face is not that big a deal when you are already soaking wet. You don’t need to be next to a warm ocean to get this experience—a warm bath will do, or even a hot shower. Commit to memory how it feels to let go and practice it.
2. Receive love
The weird and delightful thing about the practice of letting go is how it primes you to receive the support you need most. I have often written that one of the most tragic things I witness is the ways in which we turn away from the love coming towards us and refuse the support that is surrounding us. Receiving is the foundational capacity of love that can only really be felt when we surrender to it. Think of floating in the ocean or even a bathtub and remember why water (which is largely what we are made of) is such a good teacher. Apply that feeling of being buoyed up in the water to the myriad of ways that the world is loving you.
3. Listen with your whole body
The transformative "do over" experience of feeling supported in your life helps open up your ability to listen in your relationships. Most people believe they are saying what they mean, and worse still, that other people can get their meaning through their words. It’s no wonder we so often feel misunderstood or misunderstand those we love. The real communication we are seeking—the type that levels the playing field—happens in the space between and behind the words, through the uninterrupted attention we offer when we really are listening with our whole body. In these moments of doing over, the smallest gestures convey volumes—holding a hand to the soft cheek of a loved one or holding a hug longer than we think we can or should tells a story we often cannot find words for.
4. Befriend Reality
Reality is kinder than we imagine when we listen and perceive it through our heart. Even our most painful moments are softened and workable when they are shared in the true communing that turns our compassionate attention into an action verb. This is the essence of what showing up for the promises you have made looks and feels like. Even the strangers who are lucky enough to cross your path feel seen.
Courage is the natural fluid state of the heart that allows us to go with the flow, to truly listen and to show up in our lives. And so the wheel turns again. Warm wishes for a new year immersed in love.
Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family. In her new book, "Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy," she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative advice. It has been called "the essential guide for relationships." The book is available on ebook. Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13-23 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can follow her on Google+