When people begin asking me at this time of year, “What’s Next for You” or “What Are Your Goals for the Next Year?” I take a pause. I have been through many different paths in my 78 years. Setting goals used to be helpful for me, but I think I am at a different place now.
Coming from a chaotic childhood, I was one that needed a plan to feel safe. There was so much uncertainty around me. I became what is known as hypervigilant in therapeutic terms. Unbeknownst to me I was always scanning the area in new situations or gatherings to make sure there were no surprises. I always sat next to the aisle in a movie theatre or in view of a door or exit. Most times, I drove my own car so I could be in charge of my coming and going. I had no idea I was doing this to feel safe until I started studying to become a psychotherapist. I think this was partly about wanting to understand my own life.
It is a relief and a place of emotional growth to no longer have to have a plan or goal for everything. What was affirmed on the outside and looked good organizationally was actually about the fear to trust.
As this new year comes into being, I take a pause and simply become present to whatever presents itself. Inhabiting that presence will reveal the next right step. While living my nearly eight decades, I am experiencing the beauty of trust on a deep, cellular level. I now have a feeling of safety in my life. This may seem ironic with all the uncertainty and upheaval in our world right now. I no longer feel the anxiety of having to fix everything that is wrong in our world. What I need is to know my place in the overall plan and to fully inhabit that place.
Does this mean I have a rose-colored Pollyanna view of everything in the future being positive and no worries? Absolutely not! There will be discord among nations and within my own circle of friends and family. My heart literally hurts almost to bursting from the abuse, injustice and lack of civility that I see all around me. If my sense of duty is to put myself in every situation in which I see wrong, I will exhaust myself and end up running on empty. I won’t have the energy needed to see and inhabit the unique place I am meant to serve.
I have found that if I am totally present to each situation, then it is possible for healing to occur. Anytime I totally inhabit not only my joy, but my pain or even the honest acknowledgement that I blew it, I will know myself on a deeper level. I have experienced healing in relationships that seemed impossibly torn asunder. I have experienced loving and respectful communication with those who have totally opposite political and religious beliefs.
What I have come to believe is that the Power that created us is benevolent. It is on my side and is drawing me towards wholeness. Some call this a Higher Power, the Source, the Universe. All of these have meaning for me, but, I simply say God.
I was once the little girl who always had to create her own safety with a plan and could not always believe that the big people were on her side. Now I am a silver-haired woman who believes that a Power higher than herself is always pulling for her and drawing her toward wholeness. I can take a pause and trust that I don’t have to run from pain or conflict. That someone bigger than I am is holding my hand, which is what that little girl always wanted.
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