May this year be a kinder year for us all.

This newsletter did not appear in your inbox over the holidays because I felt there was enough noise ringing around the planet over the New Year. The noise can just. get. so. loud.

It is quieter now.

It may appear as if we have crossed the rubicon but the passing of last year was just one breath out and this was just one breath in. That’s all it took. There was fanfare. Social media was riding on a froth of energy – setting, maintaining and cultivating ‘resolutions’, ‘intentions’, ‘new habits’,

Of course there is ritual. And ritual is important. But I want to invite you to create some space around this noise (its neither bad nor good – just loud). Let’s start – gently and with kindness – to inquire into what lies beneath this froth of energy; these urges to accomplish and to reinvent.

Let’s surf the urge.

Instead of leaping into action based on these New Year’s urges, let’s just breathe and be with. Let’s just hang out here wth the urge(s) for a few moments.

Let’s say your urge is a sincere desire to change, modulate, and/or rearrange something in your life. You may feel the need to accomplish weight loss, get more exercise, get healthy, find a new relationship, restart, rebuild or renovate some aspect of your life – you may want to to save the planet or at the very least, the human race.

Is there a story that underlies this desire? And does that story revolve around what you should do?

Perhaps you can examine this urge for (self) improvement. Where does this sense of insufficiency, this sense that you-are-not-enough or that the-world-is-not-enough come from?

This may take a bit of time to sit (contemplation) with this question (inquiry). Contemplative inquiry is one way to begin to sense your way into how you feel on the inside with this urge.

Perhaps there is an image, a sound, a face, an experience, a feeling, and/or an emotion that emerges from your contemplation around this urge to ‘improve’.

There are some questions you can ask yourself. Are these voices/stories I am hearing actually mine? Are these pressures, voices, stories those of family members (family culture), or of others (social expectations)? Once you have gained some insight into the source, shape and feeling tone of these stories, you might be able to establish whether these voices/stories have any meaning for you. You can decide – consciously and in full presence – whether you want to realise this urge or not.

Once you drop down into this terrain you will find yourself in radical relation with yourself – directly with yourself – and not with a roomful of party-goers (well-meaning people just loud). Here you can begin to consider not what you should do, but what you can do.

Listen to the difference::

What should I do to manage XYZ?

What can I do to manage XYZ?

Notice how differently you feel in relation to these two very different questions. Perhaps there is a subtle shift away from a sense of insufficiency (I should) to a sense of support and nurturing (I can).

With the can question you have shifted your position and your relationship with this urge to change. Rather than the should of self improvement, you are now in the can of nurturing and support.

By renegotiating your position with your urges (and this can apply to any urge, not just New Year’s resolutions) you can radically shift your relationship to yourself and your world.

Each of us is changing at every moment of our lives. Cells are regenerating by the second. Situations are always influx, never fixed. Once you accept the reality of change and impermanence, the pernicious urge to anticipate/manage what is going to happen next in your life begins to release its tyrranical hold on your psyche.

The focus then shifts away from the party goers (expectations you perceive) to the person (this means you) in the midst of the party. You move away from any future expectations of self (should) and back to the present (can).

The present is where we are happy. Happiness in the future is just that – in the future.

This narrative of insufficiency entails subtle and profound effects that encompass all of us. Jealousy, envy, and competition (not to mention hatred, anxiety and compensatory violence such as harassment, trolling and bullying) are all born of a perceived ‘lack’.

Social media is a minefield for insecurities based in the notion that other people have something (more likes, better photos, better text, better marketing, better life) than I have. The ‘urge’ to use social media is often (and most effectively) rooted in the narrative of insufficiency.

Perceived insufficiency at the level of the collective is a grand narrative that stretches across huge swathes of history, cultures and countries. Currently in the USA there are groups of people – perhaps millions of people – who are mired in the belief that America is not good enough. There are people who have resorted to violence in their wholehearted belief that America is just. not. good. enough.

Yes dear hearts, the personal is political. And the pain is very real. This is a struggle for all of us.

May this year be a kinder year for us all.

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