It’s December and people may be thinking about their next year resolutions already. I love the *idea* of resolutions, but the execution? That’s often the issue.
Usually we task our conscious minds (the sprinter part of the mind) to take us through an often profound or challenging shift and expect it to ‘stick to it’ for the long term (which is actually the job of the subconscious mind).
Hypnosis is a great way to support change that you’d actually like to last through January into the future.
I’ve decided to start my changes early, on December 21st, the first day of winter. I’m excited about them and have worked out some strategies to help me succeed in pumping up these four areas, which I’ve short-formed as the “4 Cs” – curiosity, courage, compassion and credit.
While they may not be the SMART goals people think of – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based – they may be smart in a different way – stretching, meaningful, action-oriented, rewarding and timely. I’ve been working with the deeper part of mind for a long time, and aim to apply the strengths of the subconscious to make them happen.
Wonder why I’m starting with curiosity? Good.
Deep curiosity about others, about ourselves and about the connections between things seems to be a trait of inquisitive and intelligent humans. When we see little children, pointing or babbling before they can speak, they are inquiring about the unfamiliar – they are curious to know more about seemingly everything around them. This is termed diversive curiosity – it’s all over the place.
More mature curiosity tends to fall into two other curious categories – epistemic and empathic. The first is the desire to dig deeper into knowing how something works or the ‘guts’ of the matter, while the second opens us to wonder about the workings of others – how they feel and think.
In a world of instant information, how does curiosity work? When I can say “Ok, Google/Alexa/fill in name here…” and get an answer to my most pressing questions, do I actually have time to feel the hunger of curiosity before it is fed?
I remember a game my father used to play when we were watching TV – when there would be a commercial break he would ask us what we thought would happen next, or how the story would turn out, or what a certain character might do. Sometimes we’d guess ‘right’ and sometimes we’d come up with another idea that might have been a better ending. The exercise gave us pause – to assess the information, make a best guess or create something from our own imagination. I know that I often have to force myself to take a ‘break’, to be curious enough to think for myself, rather than going directly to ‘the oracle’.
I also noticed that online information is anything but connecting. We face the screen and get our answers, but miss the source (in more ways than one). I love writing, but I also love face-to-face or even live, online courses, where the curious can ask and discuss (and the ‘expert’ learns even more in the process!) Human interaction for ‘stuff’ has the extra benefit of allowing us to be curious about people as well. While I’ve figured out to do a lot of home repairs via youtube, I value my times spent in hardware stores getting tips from those who have been in the plumbing/construction/tool trenches before me. I find there’s an alchemy that gives me more than I was expecting, simply by taking the time to listen and ask.
But if being curious, or finding out the ‘old fashioned way’ takes too much time? What if you feel too tired, too overwhelmed, like there’s too much to do already to be curious about anything else? That’s good feedback too.
Because curiosity forces us to turn our attention to something, it might turn it away from something else. I know there are a few ‘time wasters’ that I can gladly release, knowing how much I’ll benefit from creating, imagining and connecting with other areas I’m really curious about. And while it’s like developing new muscles, which may be wearying or ache when they are first exercised, they tend to end up bringing much more energy and vibrancy and strength to life.
What is the plan for next year and curiosity? I’ve got a few areas I’ve been curious to learn (Spanish, painting) and a few others that I need to dig deeper into – I’m ‘educated’ in a few areas, but feel that going further may unearth some secrets yet elusive.
To boost my curiosity, my aim for 2017 is to search different avenues, some slow, some social, some personal, but all for deeper connection with things, people and myself. I’m assigning a certain amount of time to ‘exploring’ and ‘reading’ and ‘visiting’ without any presuppositions of the goal in advance, so I can discover and link as I go. I’ll do some self-hypnosis to ‘up’ my openness and wonder. And I’ll be curious to find out how it goes.
(Curious to find out more? Look up Ian Leslie’s “Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It”)
Courage seems to go hand in hand with curiosity. If you want to take a road yet travelled, you have to be brave enough to take the first step (and possibly trip and fall as you explore).
In my practice I see courageous people every day. But they don’t feel courageous. These are the people who are willing to go outside of their comfort zone, to face a challenge that isn’t working for them, or to aim for something higher, deeper or more loving than they’ve ever done or had before – this can be a daunting task. Many of them don’t (yet) realise that you can be scared and be brave at the same time – in fact, feeling the fear and doing it anyway is itself and act of courage.
And while courage seems to be swash-buckling in some ways, just like my clients have discovered, courage is needed to reflect, revise and act in a different way. It takes courage to show your most tender parts, your underbelly. Which is why loving can be such an act of courage – simply because it gives a chance to be vulnerable. And whatever the final outcome of loving is; the lover is still brave to do so.
Courage tends to follow curiosity rather than criticism. It is open rather than shutting down.
The person who shouts down all others with no consideration doesn’t feel courageous to me – it takes a big person to find the strength to live beliefs and face inner challenges with regard for self and others. Some of the least-recognised yet most courageous people tend to be the quiet protectors or those that speak of injustice and work towards bettering others, not just self. I’m lucky to have my clients as role models and have found others that, while not obvious, embody courage as I see it.
Courage isn’t a destination, but a journey and practice.
Every day, a little further off a well-worn path. If it feels scary, that might be where you’ll need to go to practice courage. As I’m writing this, I can feel a knot in my throat about the things I’ve promised myself to be courageous about, which are firmly outside my ‘wheelhouse’. I could fail, I could be embarrassed, I could challenge expectations or fall short of them. But even as I catch my breath and want to back away to wait for a ‘better time’, I know that these are so important in my exploration to bring more courage into my life.
So in 2017, I’ve started a list of many little (and some big) things that I need to confront in my business, or to reconnect with others, that make me uncomfortable. I’ll do one every day – hypnosis will help with that habit – and I’ll check them off when I’m done. I’ve got it written down so I can not only look at it and say “well, that wasn’t as bad as I imagined…” but also see how far my muscles have strengthened over the year which I push myself, once again, just outside my comfort zone again.
I’d like to think that I’m a compassionate therapist and teacher. Yet on the road, or in the grocery store, or during a ‘discussion’ with my husband, I tend to lose it, jump to conclusions, and assume what others are thinking or why they are doing what they are doing. And my assumptions may not tend to be the kindest or believe that people are doing the best they can with what they’ve got.
While thousands of sessions I’ve witnessed make it clear that often the thoughts, feelings or desires underneath never surface to be seen. And what comes out in behaviours may not reflect the true self, or be understood in context of everything else that’s going on for an individual.
It takes curiosity and courage to have compassion, to open up to imagining others and their reasons or motivations for being or acting that way. It requires us to connect with the human condition, to feel their stories, or potential stories, and dare to talk in their shoes.
When we bring compassion to others, many of the challenges fall away, as if we can help in allowing others to drop their armour (a lot of behaviours or patterns have been created to cover up vulnerabilities that started when we didn’t have all the information, experience or insight we needed at the time). We really understand and connect from a stance that they are continuing to learn and grow and are still doing their best.
So for 2017, my pumping up of curiosity and courage should hold me in good stead for compassion. And, like training a computer gamer to harness her focus for the game to another area in life, I’m working with hypnosis to take my patience and understanding out of the office and into traffic. Which will save me a LOT of energy, not having to jump back after jumping to conclusions!
But what about self-compassion? I mean, it’s ok to imagine that others have good reasons for goofing up, but me? I’m above (or should be above) it all. Right?
Here’s a fun exercise. As you’re heading off to bed, imagine a mistake you made during the day and pretend your best friend is talking to you about it. Does she/he bring a different perspective? Does it start to sound like what I was writing about for others? A little bit of self-love can go a long way – not for letting you off the hook, but for realizing you don’t have to be on the hook in the first place.
So this was the closest word I could find to gratitude or thankfulness that started with a “C”. But I like it a lot. In fact, this is the credit anyone could have in their pocket. There is no limit. There’s no compound interest you have to pay. In fact, it tends to come back to you when you give it away.
We’re not talking empty credit, but heartfelt thanks for what we have and are and will be. I’m curious to see if you can think of a number of things to be grateful for, or give credit to, right now. And I wonder how a list of them couldn’t help but blossom even more over time? You’re right, curiosity supports credit. Courage, where we can stand in our own vulnerable and beautiful state and appreciate the same in others, also helps credit. And, yes, compassion definitely supports our ability to extend credit to others who, on the surface, seem like bad credit risks.
Or maybe it’s the other way around? Maybe extending credit facilitates all the rest. Who knows? But in this virtuous cycle, they all seem to dovetail beautifully.
I am thankful for so many things that flow ‘naturally’ around or into my life. I am also grateful for the areas on which I need to work harder.
Do I only give myself credit for a finished product? Well, that’s something I’m working on this year – because it is often in the ‘doing my best’ where the real credit should lie. If I trip and fall while reaching, I may seem to be in a worse situation than if I had not reached at all, but that isn’t necessarily the case. As an old slogan used to go “we may have lost the battle but we will win the war”, our falling short at times doesn’t mean that we won’t hit the mark in the end.
My two-sided goal is to appreciate and celebrate the abundance and opportunity I have around me – in the people, things and experiences that I’m fortunate enough to have in my life – and have the courage to share my appreciation.
I’m also working on daily goals and giving credit for ‘doing my best’ for the day (using Marshall Goldsmith’s list found in the book “Triggers), taking the pressure off the gratitude for a complete performance, rather than a committed one. I’ll be using hypnosis to help with this one too.
Are curiosity, courage, compassion and credit crazy goals for 2017? I don’t feel they are, and with the help of the subconscious, I believe that these four simple words (and not so simple concepts) are going to have a positive impact on the year, and the years to come.
If you need help with any resolutions or changes in your own life in 2016, 2017 and beyond, let us know – I’m here to help.
All the best and really looking forward to what we’ll all do next year…