It’s the Season of Light, a time of year that’s considered holy by almost all religious traditions. Although it’s the darkest time of year outside, the light within us may shine brighter during the holiday season than at any other time of the year. One of the best ways to get your inner light to glow is to take stock of all you’ve accomplished in the previous year. I encourage you to spend time honoring your completions in 2010. Take the time to turn inward, to give thanks for the good and to let go of the rest. By looking back during this dark time of year, you are planting the seeds for a more luminous future. Take the time to harvest the wisdom of this year. It’s a powerful form of preventative health care.
Feel it in Body and Soul
Every year on my birthday and again at the beginning of a new year, I write down my goals for the New Year and cross off the things I’ve accomplished. Although I have done this for many, many years, each time I go through this exercise, I’m astounded by how much I accomplished the prior year.
Many of you are guilty of this: The minute you finish something, you immediately look ahead to the next thing. Instead, you want to savor it, to feel it deep in your core for as long as it takes the completion to become a part of you. Every time you do, it sends a message to your brain and body, particularly the third chakra (your solar plexus) and establishes and strengthens the hardwiring for self-esteem and personal power.
Because we have a primitive nervous system (designed to protect us from saber tooth tigers), if you don’t honor your accomplishments, your body will think there is still more to do. This feeling of constant worry that you won’t get it all done sets you up for all kinds of stress-related health conditions. This includes lowered immunity, excess stress hormones, and cellular inflammation.
I’m certain this contributes to the thyroid problems many women have as well. The fifth chakra, where the thyroid is, has to do with your relationship to time. If you feel like you’re constantly rushing and that you never have enough time, you remain in a chronic state of incompletion. One of the best ways to feel rest and relaxation is to remind yourself that you’ve already done a lot.
Change Your Relationship to Time
Part of this is reality. Life has sped up exponentially in the past 100 years. When compared to the beginning of the 20th century, each of us (in the Western world) is required to process more bits of information in a day than our grandparents (or great-grandparents) did in a year! Anyone with school age children knows that constant parent involvement is required to keep up with all the events, homework assignments, and so forth. With the constant barrage of information from “smart” technology, it’s no wonder we feel there’s never enough time to do all that needs to be done. We weren’t designed to operate 24/7 at full throttle!
In taking stock of what you’ve done and what you’ve worked through, you change your relationship to time. You realize that, one way or another, you always have time to do the things that absolutely have to be done. This starts a loop of positive reinforcement that makes you feel like you have more control of your life. If you perceive that there is always enough time, there will be.
Feng Shui and Forgiveness
Feng Shui is a powerful tool for recognizing completions and bringing about new beginnings. It also helps you let go of the baggage of your past. Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese art of placement and involves placing objects and using colors and design to enhance health, happiness, and prosperity. Feng Shui practitioners know that your physical space is a metaphor for your life.
If you’re not digesting your successes, you may also notice that your surroundings are cluttered. In addition to a cluttered desk, there may even be cobwebs in your home or office! Because life—and Feng Shui—is all about energy, anything that blocks the flow of energy, like clutter, will keep new people, things, finances, and experiences from flowing into your life. People who have trouble acknowledging success tend to accumulate stuff, leaving little room for anything good or new.
Letting go of stuff is good! The universe will move in to fill that void—often with richer blessings than ever. Plus taking care of stuff is a huge energy drain. Studies show that too much stuff actually makes us unhappy.
Letting go often means practicing forgiveness. As you may know, forgiveness is something you do for yourself, not for the other person. Forgiving doesn’t make what the other person did right or just. Instead it releases the emotional pain that you’re holding onto. Acknowledging your completions ensures that you let go of disappointments and old resentments more regularly. Continually release and let go. Many people have physical healings when they let go of anger and resentment this way.
Regardless of how much rushing around you have to do, stop right now and pull out your calendar from 2010. As I said, you want your body to have a physical sense of completion. Otherwise your nervous system will remain in a state of high alert. Look at what you were doing in January of 2010. Perhaps you can even locate a list of New Year’s resolutions. You may have completely forgotten where you were in your life or what you were hoping to accomplish in 2010.
Now take as much time as you need to list your completions. In addition to your calendar, you can look through some old emails to see where you were a year ago. Look for patterns, not just events. Perhaps these are some of your completions: an increased savvy about your own healthcare; weight loss that you kept off all year; a better understanding of your financial matters; a new friendship that supports you; a regular exercise practice. You may see that things didn’t always turn out how you hoped they would. But instead of just looking at what was left undone, hopefully you’ll be able to see things with more perspective.
Here’s a tip: If you’re having trouble doing this exercise, choose one drawer or compartment in your house, office, or car and clean it out. Because of the principles of Feng Shui, this can create a lot of forward momentum. It’s also a way to take a baby step towards giving yourself credit for something you’ve done.
Now it’s time to share! My friend Regena Thomashauer says, “Undigested good turns to crap.” (She uses a slightly different word.) So find a friend or family member that’s not a naysayer who you can “brag” to about your accomplishments. Again, this upward spiral of feedback can become a reality. Focusing on what’s positive and fanning the flames of yours and your friends’ completions is a sure-fired way to usher more joy and possibilities into everyone’s new year.
Flourish in the New Year
I’ve often said that what you pay attention expands. When you pay attention to what you’ve completed it sets the stage for you to receive more blessings and better health. So look back and truly feel it in your body. Then look to 2011 with excitement. It’s a new beginning full of all kinds of potential.
Christiane Northrup, M.D. is a co-founder of Team Northrup, a women’s health visionary, and author of New York Times bestsellers Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause. Learn more at www.drnorthrup.com.