We’re tirrrreed. Since whispers of Wuhan in early '19, it’s been a Big Two Years!
It can feel heavy.
The civilized veneer that covers the raging animal that is our experience is, for some of us, becoming very thin! Being inspired by or creating something new for next year... forget it.
We need to find a way to let it go so we can move on – have fun, create something new. This is how to do that:
We often confuse ‘moving on’ with ‘letting go’.
Instead of moving on freely, we just hoik our burden a little higher, dig deep and smile brightly.
This is NOT getting complete. It’s a normal human reaction to trauma… and it’s also slow bloody murder…
How to complete 2021 and be free(r)?
To get that you’ve got to get something about why we hold onto things.
Human beings have a fundamental filing error in how we process experiences.
Instead of putting the past back into the past where it belongs and moving forward with an ever-renewing blank slate, we file our worst and most painful experiences in the file marked “future” so we never have to experience that again.
You’ve done it … You’ve filed the worst bits of this year into the file marker ‘2022 and beyond’ and wonder why next year isn’t exciting you.
Unexamined, this ‘past’ we’ve filed into the ‘future’ not only constrains our experience of the present but it has a nefarious way of actually recreating itself.
This filing error makes sense when you think of avoiding being eaten by Lions or deciding which Berries to eat and which to avoid but the price we pay is that we’re always on edge, waiting for the worst and marching into a future profoundly constrained by our (worst) experiences from the past.
Think of the young kid (we all were) who muffed her times-tables in front of the group and decide public speaking wasn’t for her. The young man mocked by his peers who decided he wasn’t good at socializing. Let’s not even talk about intimate relationships!! We all do this and it’s debilitating.
The why’s and wherefores of this mechanism is one for psychologists, trauma-therapists, and spiritual mentors (I’ve been to them all!). But the fact remains that, taking to time to consciously resolve as much of your traumatic experiences as you can not only improves your experience and quality of life but also helps you avoid having to deal with those things again.
That's a good ROI!
So, Let’s do it!
1. The first thing you need is to bring all those traumatic experiences back to the front of your mind.
Yup. Before they all sink indistinguishably into the mud of the crap you drag around with you and call your experience of life, raise the dead of your traumatic experiences and poke around a bit.
There are lots of ways to do this. Art is probably the best as it goes tends to go right to the experience and bypasses much of the intellectual rationalisation you will otherwise import to the pure crappyness of what you experienced. However, lists work. Writing (especially stream-of-consciousness) is good.
If you’re going to write (and most of us do) – write like this...
Try writing like you talk – like you’re in a conversation with someone else who has your name and body but isn’t you. Be a little schizophrenic. Make sure no one will read it. Make sure you don’t write in case someone will read it (so it sounds good). When you get to the point where you don’t really know what you’re going to write next, you’re in the zone 😊
2. The second thing is to take responsibility for your experience.
Be careful here, I didn’t say take the blame. It may sound obvious but we collapse those two A LOT!
In the sense I’m using it, ‘being responsible means finding a place where you had agency in that circumstance.
For example, I’ve dealt with some pretty psychopathic bosses (who hasn’t). How can I be responsible for how they are with me and others? That’s certainly not my fault!
Have you heard the story of the scorpion and the frog? The scorpion hitched a ride over a river on the frog’s back. Halfway over the scorpion mortally stung the frog. As the frog sunk under the water, taking them both to their deaths he asked, incredulously, “why”??? The answer: “I’m a scorpion, it’s my nature”. The implication being – you knew that about me (or should have at least)!
Maybe you have a past trauma that caused something to go the way it did. Maybe you secretly goaded those people and then acted surprised when they reacted to you. Maybe you saw something and didn’t communicate it (fully!) and, looking back it’s no surprise others made the mistakes they did or the thing went to way it did.
No, it’s not. It’s theirs. But looking for somewhere I could be responsible for what happened might be as simple as getting that I could (or maybe should) have picked them before I said yes to the job. Maybe that’s too much to ask, but there would have been a point where I continued naively relating to that boss like they were a normal, empathic person after I’d realised they probably weren’t.
Wherever you can find causation, your own agency, at the source of what happened, you will find completion and power… and the freedom to start creating FRESH!
The more brutally honest you are with yourself, the more freedom you’ll get.
3. The third thing is to communicate it.
When I got married I made public vows. Why public? There is something in the act of communication that makes a thing real.
There is a frission in making a declaration – a declaration of independence, of emancipation, bankruptcy, war or even that you’re giving up an addiction.
The public declaration has always been a powerful tool for bending reality to our preferences.
Getting where you can be responsible for something is the critical first step to freedom. It creates the possibility of completion. Communicating where you are responsible takes you over the Rubicon.
I might want to do a course or change jobs, but until I’ve paid for it or actually applied for something new, the dream remains a dream. It’s the same thing here. You might want completion and freedom, but until you actually step out and do something in the world beyond yourself, it remains largely a hope.
Where possible, tell someone who was impacted (not just someone who is interested). Tell them where you can be responsible for something (not fault remember!). If you can’t start with the person most impacted, start with people further down the line. To take an extreme example, if it’s not the person who was fired because of something that happened, tell the person who fired them first (and then ring up the first person 😊).
Rule of thumb for this: tell the person you most don’t want to tell.
These are the steps to truly completing your experience of this last year, or any experience really. If you want to feel free to enjoy yourself, be with and for others, and even start creating from a truly blank-slate, this is the work to do. There is simply no other way.
As I said at the top, I've written this because it’s the process we’ve been using in our seminars and because everyone can do it!
If you do want some support in this process for you or your teams, it isn’t too late (quite) and really, it’s never the wrong time to get complete and create something new!
If this interests you, there may be a number of ways I can help: