With the new year here, are you wondering:
“Will 2022 be as uncertain and exhausting as 2020/2021?”
“Is it time to give up on what was ‘normal’ and accept how it is now?”
“Will my (insert personal circumstance here) change for the better in 2022?”
While it’s true that many things continue to be uncomfortably out of your control, it’s also true that you have the capacity to call upon your resilience to navigate the constantly choppy changes.
It’s what you choose to do with who you are, with the resources you do have, that matters – – especially now when you don’t feel like it at all.
The power to choose how you show up and respond –- no matter the chaos that surrounds you — is one of the few things you do control.
Last weekend, there were eight of us on a Sunday morning Zoom call. Each of us giving voice to our tensions and gritty confusion about the state of the world, other’s choices, and the love and compassion in our personal and shared circles.
We gathered and shared our heartbreaking moments of simply being human:
- “I’ve been constantly distracted, unable to plan, and instead I need to find ways to adapt to the chaos. It’s exhausting.”
- “I thought I was living out my values, yet lately I realize that I’ve been looking for ways to not feel the intensity of it all.”
And we reflected the shimmers of silver linings, too:
- “We had to change our plans due to COVID, which was disappointing, yet I got more rest this past week than I have in years. I feel great!”
- “My daughter had to quarantine with us. It was an incredible gift of time and connection.”
To a person, we concluded that it’s been a challenge to show up as our best selves when our hearts are full to cracking, when we’d really rather yell or throttle someone, and just give up because it simply feels too hard.
Can we insulate ourselves from heartbreak?
No, it’s inherent in being a living, breathing human. We’ll experience loss, defeat, failure, betrayal, and yes, even death.
How we have our hearts broken makes all the difference.
Author and educator, Parker Palmer, challenges us to consider the type of person we’d prefer to be in challenging times.
Will we be someone whose heart is broken apart by the challenges, bits of ourselves flung out into the universe, leaving us depressed or angry or chronically fearful or anxious?
Or instead, someone whose heart breaks open, allowing the tension and pressure to crack us open, revealing a soft heart of compassion that will grow our resilience?
“The broken-open heart is a source of power as well as compassion — the power to bring down whatever diminishes us and raise up whatever serves us well.”
As we embark on the new year, Palmer’s question is important for each of us to consider:
- How do you want to show up to the challenges of life this next year?
- How do you want to spend your time and energy? With whom?
- How will you resource yourself to support these choices?
Set a One-Word Intention
As many of you know, I’m a big fan of claiming a Word of the Year each year. The impetus for this kind of intention-setting, or declaration, is that words matter.
Our words give shape to what’s important in life; they remind us of who we are, and have power to move us into action.
Our intentions reflect what we value; what really draws us into a deeper commitment.
Our actions flow from the quality of person we are; how we want to be in the world.
Intentions provide a framework for us to set priorities, use our time wisely, and align ourselves with the resources we need to fulfill on our goals.
A strong, positive, and energized intention serves as an attractor in our lives, and it’s equally likely to repel what’s not in alignment with it.
Whether you choose a Word of the Year for 2022 or not, my research from these past few months reveals that there are 4 words that may reflect key areas of heartache for you, words that showed up in our early morning meditation too:
- Focus. You’re struggling with constant distractions from a multitude of commitments, lack of time, and trying to stay out in front of it all. It’s never been this hard. Choose one or two goals or relationships that will benefit most from your focus and commit to turning your energy toward them. Less is more.
- Clarity. The past two years have upended your notion of what’s normal, and you find yourself consistently surprised by all that’s shifting around you. It’s confusing. You’re wondering, “What is actually important to me now?” If your priorities are different, embrace letting your life and choices reflect that.
- Energy. The constant pressure has zapped your energy, 86ing the pleasure right out of your life. Low energy makes everything more challenging. Placing your intention on what fills you up and depletes you will help you regulate it and protect you from being depleted.
- Connection. Wired for connection, your connections have been strained and lacking for too long. You find yourself longing for the simple, ordinary connections of the past. Find new ways to make connections easy, and ask others to make a commitment to showing up with you this year
The power to choose how you show up, respond, and get into action – no matter the heartbreaking chaos that surrounds us– is one of the few things you can influence and control in 2022.