The Art of Healing ❤️
If we truly desire a fresh start in 2021, we must commit to a path of self love, discovery and healing. Our lives are quite literally depending on it.
A New Year always brings in fresh motivation and energy. We often see the change in calendar as an opportunity to set new goals for ourselves (or reinstate long forgotten plans from years past..before work, kids, and a worldwide pandemic set in). We tell ourselves that this will be the year. The year we see 365 sunrises and sunsets. The year we achieve our fittest ever beach body and glossy magazine cover skin. We throw away all the sugar from the cupboards, determined we no longer need it in our lives. Gym equipment is purchased and gym memberships soar (prior to COVID-19 January is the busiest month for any gym). We make ourselves endless promises that we hope not to break. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we will succeed, other times that little voice inside our head tells us it's only a matter of time before we go back to our 'old ways'. Some of us have very encouraging friends, some of us have the 'friends' that resent us trying to better ourselves (you know the ones, those who fear that if you give up your shared vice, they will have to also face their overindulgences). Some of us are completely alone, scared to better ourselves because it may harm the few connections that we do have. I know I smoked for 12 years longer than I should have for this very reason.
So we begin 2021 with all good intentions. Intentions to be healthier, more productive, to spend more time with those we really care for and less time sweating the small stuff. We use lists, post-it notes, phone reminders, journalling and / or self-help books to name but a few of the ways we try to reprogram our minds into taking better care of ourselves. These will help us stay on track, remind us why we started and how we must continue being motivated to reach that seemingly distant goal. They will help nudge us into making better choices. Choices which will make our future self proud, and not loathing of the weak failure that we feel we are today.
So why is it that most of us fail in our attempts to change or maintain a new routine? Where does all the enthusiasm fall away to after a merely a week or two of embarking on our positive fresh start?
We know from academic research that it takes just 21 days to set a new routine. If we can consistently follow a new path for 3 weeks, we forge new pathways in our brain that will make our new habits easy to maintain. So how is it possible that our enthusiasm dies so quickly?
I suggest to you that there are two main reason;
(1) Neurobiology & Epigenetic's
Through groundbreaking new studies in recent years, science is proving to us that previously held beliefs about the human brain are not true. We were taught that your life will be more or less defined by your genetics, your DNA at the time of your birth will determine your health for the rest of your life. If you have a family history of cancer, dementia, heart disease etc then you are likely carrying the same genetic markers as your ancestors, and there is nothing you can do about it. Science is now uncovering that this is a gross mistruth.
Every single thing you do affects your DNA on a second to second basis. Every thought. Every feeling. Your diet (this includes what you feed your mind). Hydration levels. Your environment. EVERYTHING!
Now, read that paragraph again.
I will go into this further in a separate article, as it is a large, interesting and vital topic of discussion. For now, what I wish to give you is a key. The key that opens the door to the fact that our brains are not 'hardwired' as previously thought, but they instead have what scientists call 'plasticity'. The analogy is that our brain is the computer hardware, running a software of programs fed to us since birth (how to talk, walk, dress, eat, communicate, what is 'right' and 'wrong' behaviours etc). We did not consciously choose any of these programs. For example, I did not choose the country I was born in, the family I was born to, the language I speak fluently. I did not choose my sensitive temperament, the subject matter I was taught at school, the philosophy of life I was raised with.
If you follow the story of your own life from birth, you will soon conclude that you have been living in a cycle of programs determined by the beliefs of others. To help aid this visualisation, try imagining you were born to a country far from your own, to a different religion and culture. Would you be you today? The answer is of course no. Logic prevails that we are indeed a mash up of our upbringing, environment, diet and culture. At birth, we began with hardware that was built by our ancestors. We can be born with a predilection for health or disease, based upon how well our ancestors looked after themselves. This we already knew - what we didn't realise was that we have more power that we ever knew to reverse the 'bad' and enhance the 'good' DNA within us. Diseases previously thought to be a lifelong curse are now being proved reversible through learning the art of healthy living.
Throughout our adult lives, decisions are typically made unconsciously based on our current level of programming. When we choose to rewrite our old program and establish a new one, braincells are literally dying off during this process. When we attempt to make life altering changes and our brains detect cell death, it essentially goes into self-preservation mode and will do anything it can to maintain the status quo. The brain hardware does not realise that this change is for the greater good. It is 'wired' to protect us from any perceived threat and the death of old (whether faulty or not) cells and neuropathways is most definitely perceived as a threat.
This knowledge can make all the difference when you are attempting a fresh start. Knowing what is going on within you on a chemical level, can help empower you to mitigate the effects and stay on track. Reminding yourself frequently that you are on a new path, that your brain will try every trick it knows to try to get you to go back to your old habits and routines, and staying strong about YOUR decision to change. The blood of your ancestors is still very much within you, resisting change, trying to continue their life philosophies through hijacking yours.
Most addicts, in my experience, profusely deny being addicted to anything. I'm sure that right now you are conjuring up a picture of a drug addict or alcoholic who cannot maintain a basic level of abstinence or self control, let alone a full time job. That couldn't possibly be a label to also describe you, could it? How sure are you? I sincerely hope that you are one of the 0.1% who is living a fulfilled, blessed life with healthy routine, making conscious choices that nurture your health, benefit your life and you are already working towards your chosen future goals in a balanced and positive way?
For the rest of us trauma afflicted human beings, that is definitely not the case. Many people think of addiction being defined as above. Or at the very least thinking an addict will have an emotional meltdown without their substance of habit. This couldn't be further from the truth. Addiction is any habit or behaviour which has a detrimental effect on your mind, body, relationships or life. That's a pretty broad area.
Let's say you want to lose 5kg. You have a clear and defined goal but you continually self sabotage this goal by binge eating after a period of time abstaining from treats.
Let's say you want to become a writer, but you let weeks pass by without a word being typed or written through continual procrastinating?
Let's say your dream is to renovate your property, or take that once in a lifetime trip to Hawaii, but you find yourself unable to resist shopping on asos / amazon / aliexpress / kurt geiger / swarovski (fill in blank). Money that could be put towards your goal but you spend on needless possessions that after a short while you tire of.
Let's say you want to start a routine of getting up early, but you find yourself still drinking coffee at 9pm claiming it doesn't affect you.
Perhaps you are in denial about a drug or alcohol dependancy. Most smokers or drinkers are friends with smokers and drinkers. Which means everyone has that pal Dave they can look to and say "I'm not as bad as him". And in turn, Dave can say "Well every one else does it, so what's the problem?". (Sorry Dave!).
Any regular drug or alcohol use IS costing you your health and wellbeing. I am an advocate for all drugs having a positive place as medicines. But medicines should never be taken daily for a prolonged period of time. If there is a deemed 'need' for this, then we need to be taking a HARD look at whether our basic needs are being met in areas of; hydration, nutrition, exercise, air, sunlight, rest & connection. These are the things that we NEED in order to thrive. We have not yet 'evolved' to thrive on fast food, a lack of quality sleep and living permanently in 'fight, flight or freeze' mode. We need to be aware of any STRESS on our mind, body or emotions. Stress is TOXIC to our health. Make no mistake, the time for it appearing 'fashionable' to be overworked and boasting about your 50+ hour week is long over.
If there is disease (dis - ease) in the body, there have been many imbalances / inflammation in the body for a prolonged period of time. It will take time to undo the damage, but before you do the work, first you must realise, on the deepest level, that you CAN heal. This starts with re-educating those brains of our with lots and lots of up to date, evidence based information. I was 30 before I learned google scholar is a 'thing'. Search for peer reviewed research in almost any topic. Start questioning how accurate what you 'know' is. Start working out how you learned what you know. Who told you, and where did they get their information? It is amazing when you begin this process, really! Be prepared to leave your ego aside as you start learning that many things you thought you 'knew', are wrong. If you are able to get quickly over the 'shame' of being wrong, you will have more time to be excited about this new journey you are about to embark on. The journey of the most important relationship you will ever have - with yourself.
What you will inevitably find out along the way, is that healing is not something you DO. Rather, healing is what naturally occurs when we follow what nature intended for us. It is more concerned with eliminating poor habits, thought patterns and behaviours. Healing and health become an inevitable side effect of having love in your heart, peace in your mind, energy in your body, compassion for yourself and others, empathy, forgiveness and a fresh perspective.
So as a little gift for your Fresh Start 2021, here are a few examples of positive reminders I use on the fridge when my past self is threatening to sabotage my future self. Although it may have seemed like I was mocking earlier - post-it notes and lists are indeed fantastic aides! Come up with your own list. Become aware of your triggers for self sabotage and prepare a counter for those moments that will challenge you.
Because your journey is not about the goal... it’s about proving to yourself that you have control of your health, your energy levels and the direction of your life. That you are indeed the architect of your life story. Once you master this, you will be manifesting your heart's desires in no time at all.