058Start 2013 with one simple commitment of bringing change to a pattern that doesn’t contribute to a sense of wholeness and thriving for you. Be you. Rather than focusing on something that you want to do, accomplish, achieve, or succeed at, pay attention to a way of being you wish to practice so it eventually becomes an effortless character trait. Perhaps it’s a virtue that doesn’t express itself naturally but that resonates within you as a missing piece to your sense of wholeness. Inspirational, compassionate, funny, respectful of self and others, grounded, open, trusting, true… whatever word works for you. We often think in terms of have-do-be. If I had the job I wanted, I would do more with my free time, and I would be happier. It’s more often than not the other way around. If I be______________, I will do more of______________/ less of_______________, and I will have______________________. Sometimes, what you end up “having” comes back to the way you have been “being”.

“It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.” That is such a powerful statement by psychologist and theorist, Alfred Adler. And so true. In my work, I share this quote with my clients all the time. There is often a paradox in the way we defend our moral beliefs and communicate what we value. The most common things I hear from young people I work with are along the lines of “He disrespected me, so I punched him”, “He bullied my friend, so gave him what he deserved”, “She humiliated me. She doesn’t deserve my respect”, “Anyone who judges me is a f*#% ________”. Unfortunately, when we go about resolving issues from a place of insecurity, power, ego, or fear, the result is that we communicate something that is contradictory to the principles we are supposedly fighting for. Blaming, projecting, judging, avoiding, and accusing others is easy. Living up to our principles is not. It requires an ability to create stillness in the patterns of the mind (yoga) and to live a life of integrity – having our actions be in line with our words, our words in line with our actions. Self-respect is my 2013 word.

Our defense mechanisms are unique to our own life story. What may have once worked for your survival as a young child may be in need of a serious update. For the start of this year, pick one new way of being you wish to cultivate – a principle you are committed to living up to – and practice it for 30 days. Be kind and non-judgmental toward yourself as you encounter bumps in the road throughout the process. Observe yourself in each of your interactions, reflect, be curious, and be mindful. Changing a pattern can occur in that amount of time if you place your attention on it and make tremendous effort. After 30 days, the practice continues, only it becomes more effortless. Every once in a while, the defenses will poke their head in again to say hi, but you’ll have a new way of being to come back to. The practice never ends. Your lifetime alone may not even be enough to fully integrate certain principles, but the effects of your way of being will impact all of those around you as well as the generations to come.

Happy 2013 – New beginnings, new endings, and new in-betweens.