“New Year, new you” is an oft-touted phrase at this time of year. And it is very tempting. I can see the allure of a total personality overhaul, leaving all those bad habits behind, whatever they are: over-eating, not exercising, lacking motivation, being ungrateful, etc etc.
But is this complete overhaul really realistic? Isn’t it time to accept ourselves as we are? I’ve been through this “new year new you” energy enough times to know that no matter how many times I promise that I’m going to start doing yoga every morning without fail and I’m going to learn to draw, or whatever else it is, some things just don’t stick and maybe that’s ok. Maybe it’s ok to try lots of different things and just let them go if they don’t resonate with you enough to keep them up. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means it wasn’t for you and it didn’t bring you enough joy to keep doing it. Obviously exercise is difficult at the beginning so you do have to push through that “no, this isn’t resonating” phase until it gets easy enough that you start enjoying it, but enjoying it is the key. Find a type of exercise that you genuinely enjoy, whether that’s daily walks, running, dancing or roller skating.
Throughout this year there’s been so much pressure to achieve those goals we’ve always wanted to achieve but never had time to do. I know I’m not the only person who felt the huge weight of over-achieving Instagrammers sharing the amazing painting they’d just done, the food they’d learned to forage, their newly decorated house, the end of a marathon run round the city, or the language app they were using to learn three new languages. We put such high expectations on ourselves which isn’t fair at the best of times, let alone when going through something as mentally unsettling as a worldwide pandemic.
At some point we need to let this go. Know yourself. You know when you REALLY want to do something and you know, deep down, when it’s going to stick. Maybe if it’s the sixth year in a row that you’ve promised to do something which you’ve never managed to do before, it’s time to kick that goal to the curb and choose a new one. Maybe it just isn’t you.
This isn’t just true of new habits and skills. What about reaching a new level of acceptance of ourselves? What difference does that 24 hours between 31 December and 1 January really make to our personality? Are we really going to become a new person in one day? I think it’s far healthier to try to accept ourselves as we are rather than think that come 1 January we have to do a panicky surgical removal of all the bits of our character we don’t like. Of course, we need to continue to develop and work on ourselves, but with the acceptance that we are human, our flaws are what make us that, so wonderfully different from each other, as well as all the beautiful parts of our hearts and minds. Acceptance comes through awareness. So often we just feel negative about ourselves in some way without actually taking the time to delve into the thoughts that are behind that feeling. All feelings are created by thoughts and shining a light on them can help us move towards acceptance and understanding.
Not only that, but maybe it’s time to think about what we can change in our communities and society rather than just looking inwards. What can you bring to your community this year? By “community” I mean your friends and family, neighbours, work colleagues, but also the land you live on and the creatures that inhabit that space with you. It’s time to look outwards as the year turns. This is a theme we see in the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn as the focus shifts from the old patterns of patriarchal traditional systems based on materialism and dogma to the more inclusive energies of Aquarius, the sign of radical ideas. For more on this see the wonderful blog of Wild Stars at www.starlys.com.
Self-development is extremely important and something I believe we should all be engaged in. Understanding ourselves and our potential is one of the most valuable things we can do in our lives. But I think there’s more space for acceptance in there. Embrace and accept that part of you that secretly knows you will probably only get up to go for a run at 6am two out of seven days a week, hug that part of you that sometimes just wants to watch Netflix rather than learning a language, hold the hand of the you that knows you will sometimes forget to write a gratitude journal - again. Be gentle. Be kind. Be caring. Not just to yourself, but to your people, your community. More than ever now I think we know how much we need them.
If you're interested in exploring the astrological themes of 2021 and how they relate to you and your wider community, check out the astrology and coaching workshop I'm running in February with my extremely wise astrologist friend, Lisa (see Services page).