In the Jewish tradition, the New Year is received with a time of introspection and reflection to take stock of the previous year before moving into the new one. This is done during the first ten days, starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur. These are commonly known as the Days of Awe or the Days of Repentance.
All religious undertone aside, I like the idea of reviewing and revisiting life to let go of what no longer serves us—no matter what time of the year. It’s too easy to get used and attached to things that hold us back, be they objects, relationships, jobs, situations, routines, or beliefs.
The ego-mind likes familiarity and creating a sense of repetition to feel safe and in control. This is crucial when we are children and need to feel safe, but its value should decrease as we grow up and understand that being in control is really an illusion, especially if we want to continue growing—emotionally, mentally, and spiritually—to master our life.
Life is about being in the present and opening up to the myriad possibilities that each moment entails, no matter how scary or intimidating that may seem at times. We cannot cling to our ego identity and flow with life; we cannot get “fixed” in our ideas and continue learning; we cannot even attach to solid ground in this ever-shifting world. In truth, growth can only happen when the desire to move on is stronger than the desire to hold on.
Self-Awareness and Letting Go… The Keys to Your Self-Growth
Life is a consciousness spiral that moves in cycles, and each cycle allows you to step up to the next level (of physical growth, mental development, and awareness). If you contemplate this for a moment, you’ll realize that each day, each week, each month, and each year are smaller cycles within the bigger ones that form your whole life. Each cycle brings the same type of situations for you to revisit and learn and grow from.
If you fail to see what needs to be learned and/or relinquished, it will come back; maybe in a slightly different form, but it will return until you can no longer avoid dealing with and resolving it. Maybe it’s through insight or maybe through a crisis, but you will have to face what holds you back and prevents you from growing.
Just like a butterfly cannot hold on to its caterpillar form and fly at the same time, we all have to go through the growing pains of leaving the cocoon behind to blossom and be free to become our authentic selves. Our growing pains are the necessary steps of self-awareness, letting go, and moving on.
It is also between those steps that a consciousness shift happens. One moment you’re face to face with an issue, then you’re feeling the pain of letting go of what needs to go, and before you know it, the pain is over and you find yourself in a better place, feeling clearer and stronger than before.
Of course, you can temporarily avoid the pain (and the learning) through denial, addictions, or hiding behind a relationship or something else, which is what most people do, but there is really no escape: you’ll have to face the issues at some point, in this lifetime or the next, because this is a soul-directed—not ego-directed—journey.
Revisit, Review, Relinquish and Repeat
It is always a good idea to review your life and beliefs on an ongoing basis to make the process of your spiritual growth a little bit smoother, without needing a crisis to get you off the familiar safety nets. I am borrowing the idea of the following self-inquiry inventory from the Jewish New Year’s tradition, but you can adjust the cycles according to your needs (instead of a year, make it a week or a month or 6 months, etc.) and of course, feel free to add more to the list to suit your individual level of introspection.
1. What would I like to leave behind from the past 12 months?
Is it a relationship, or a job, or a sense of dependency? is it a health issue or the belief that there is not enough abundance for everyone? Is it a situation that came as a crisis and made you question your life? Whatever it is, hold the vision of what needs to go and why. Remember, it is the why that allows you to let it go and move on.
2. What has prevented me from living up to my highest standards and being my very best self?
Dig in and acknowledge the self-images and attachments that have been holding you back, but do it without judgment, guilt, or shame. Review your excuses and justifications, too. Awareness is the key to your success here.
3. What would I love to bring with me into the next 12 months?
Where do you see yourself and how may that be different from where you are at now? Which values and goals would you like to highlight here?
4. Who served as a teacher/guide for me in the past year?
How much were you willing to invest in your self-growth? Did you look for guidance and support or did you choose to remain in the “self-reliant” cocoon so as to not be accountable or heard or seen?
5. Was I a teacher/model for anyone?
What was my legacy for the year (month, etc.)? Was I a role model for what I would like in my life or did I act by default, on auto-pilot instead? Did I really walk my talk? And if not, why not?
6. Is there anyone I need to forgive?
This one is pretty obvious, of course, and it can encompass your whole life, not just the past year, month, etc. Don’t forget to include yourself!
7. How will I go about forgiving?
In other words, how committed am I to accepting and opening up to life, and to let go of what’s dysfunctional and toxic in me and around me? How willing am I to take full responsibility for absolutely everything I create in my life?
I hope this is helpful. Make it into a mental habit and train your mind to get out of the way so as to remain in touch with yourself, question your unconscious motivations and track your self-defeating beliefs and attachments. And if you need help with finding your blind spots, contact me to receive compassionate guidance through individualized spiritual counseling and make your process much easier and quicker.
Leave a comment below to let me know how this goes for you and what insights it brings!
© 2012 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.
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Yol Swan is an Intuitive Spiritual Mentor, Life & Business Coach offering her intuitive and healing gifts, plus over 28 years of experience exploring the mind and psyche, to help feminine souls, Indigo adults, and conscious entrepreneurs claim their personal freedom and creative power to shape a joyful and abundant life in alignment with their soul purpose.