The Allure of Fresh Starts

12/16/15

Author: Jen Snider

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I can’t tell you how many people have told me they would love a fresh start. The language is different for everyone, but here are a few versions I hear often:

If I could just take a week/ month/ year off, I would…

If I could just get some relief from my job/ kids/ spouse/ responsibilities/ financial burdens, then I would be able to… 

Tomorrow/ next week/ after the holidays, I’m going to finally…

Any of these sound familiar? If so, of course, you’re not alone. In a world that feels so hurried and full to so many of us, thoughts like these are hard to escape. And they’re loaded for us, aren’t they?

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Fresh starts can be great when we are ready for them, don’t get me wrong. But there can be real downsides to our attraction to fresh starts as the best or only way to address the challenging aspects of our lives. See if any of these fit for you:

  • We use the idea of making a fresh start later to postpone caring for ourselves and our wellbeing today.
  • We believe that a fresh start is the only way to fix ourselves or fix our lives.
  • If we’re waiting for time or money to show up, the fresh start seems to always stay imaginary.
  • We forget that lasting change involves many starts, many adaptations and applied care and attention over time.

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Exploring what attracts us, personally, to a fresh start can be a very useful piece of mindfulness. Consider whether any of these connect for you, and if not, see if you can describe what’s happening behind the scenes in your own experience.

  • You feel overwhelmed or unhappy in your life. This isn’t how I want to live. I can’t find a moment of peace. There’s so much to do every day. Something has to change. I am being pulled in too many directions. I need to escape. I need a magic wand. I need two of me. If any of this feels familiar, your longing for a fresh start makes so much sense. You need some relief. Check out the brief exercise below. It may help. And consider reaching out for some support from someone in your life, a coach or a therapist. A little support can go a long way.
  • You’re getting ready for a change. Are you hard on yourself about imagining a fresh start later or someday? I notice some people feel rather ashamed of such thoughts, as they feel they they’re putting something off or worry they are being unrealistic. Is it possible that your aims toward a fresh start are all about getting your mind ready for something new? Getting ready is actually an incredibly valuable step towards change, and imagining how we might change is interesting territory to explore. The exercise below may be helpful.
  • You want to make a change, but can’t see how, or you have given up. Sometimes the allure a fresh start shows us where we want to make a significant change, but we wonder whether we can really do it. We may be met with difficult feelings like confusion, desperation, hopelessness, shame, fear of failure and more. We may remember past struggles to change. We may even quietly believe that change is not really possible for us. What would it be like to get really clear with yourself about the change you are seeing and what might be in your way? As you consider the exercise below, I hope you’ll ask yourself whether a little individual or group support might make a difference for you.
  • You are actually satisfied with your life right now. Is this radical to imagine? We seem naturally wired to strive for new or improved versions of everything, and we’re embedded in a culture that reminds us hundreds of times a day that we could be living differently. Is it possible that the allure of a fresh start is really just that you think you should be living differently? What would it be like to let go of the should and step into a rather kind awareness that actually, you like how you are living? Does that sentiment fit? What’s it like to relax into the life you are living right now as the one you choose?

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No matter where you find yourself among these, one of the best bets when it comes to making changes that last is to begin to tune in to what you really need, and explore changes that can be woven into the fabric of your real, everyday life.

The brief exercise below can get there!

And if you want to practice new ways to make changes that fulfill and sustain you, consider the next Roots of Wellness program in Chapel Hill or connect with one of our support providers for some individual support. 

You can also check out the Resolution*Free* New Year offering in our Live & Learn Series!

Try this Quick Exercise

  1. Grab a piece of paper.
  2. Set a timer for 10 minutes or whatever time you have.
  3. Find the lead-in that you connect with the most.
    • If I could just take a week/ month/ year off, I would…
    • If I could just get some relief from my job/ kids/ spouse/ responsibilities/ financial burdens, then I would be able to… 
    • Tomorrow/ next week/ after the holidays, I’m going to finally…
  4. Follow the and write anything you can think of in a few areas:
    • What would you be doing? (For example: Sleep. I would sleep so much. I would nap every single day.)
    • What your body would feel like doing it? (For example: My body would remember what it feels like to be rested. I bet my headaches would go away.)
    • What you would be thinking and feeling? (For example: I’d think about what I enjoy and care about. Gosh, I wonder when I already do this in everyday life! I’d also feel peaceful, I think. I’d feel relaxed.)
  5. Read what you wrote and connect with it.
  6. Read what you wrote gain with a thought in mind: I can have some of this today.
  7. Find one element you can bring into your life today.  Do a small thing. Invite your body to explore the feeling and thinking of it. Notice what you think or feel about it. . (For example: I don’t have much time today, but I’m going to take a leisurely stroll downtown on my lunch break and just let myself relax a bit. I think I’ll leave my phone behind. I may even pretend I’m in Paris!)

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If this helped you, please join me for the next Roots of Wellness program in Chapel Hill and the Resolution*Free* New Year offering in our Live & Learn Series! They’ll surely help you make your fresh start.

 

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