By Kristin Armstrong
Illustrated by Hannah-Michelle Bayley
This is the time of year where we make goals and resolutions, setting our intentions for the year ahead. With fresh calendars and renewed inspiration, we resolve to make changes in our bodies, our finances, our careers, our habits and our relationships.
The idea is great.
The way we typically go about it is usually not that great.
In both my personal spiritual journey and in my work with clients as a therapist, I am learning a lot about energy. People typically motivate to change when they get to a point of discomfort or frustration that exceeds the fear or discomfort associated with change. This is the tipping point, so to speak. I love meeting clients, friends, my kids and myself right here, at the precipice of transformation. It thrills me. My people probably think I have lost my mind. When they tell me how miserable they are and how they cannot stand it another second, all I can think is, “Oh helllyesssssss, let’s do this thing!!!!” I can barely contain myself. Don’t get me wrong, I ache when my people ache, believe me I do. It’s gut-wrenching, heart-clutching, breath-holding work at times, this being human gig. But when someone tells me they are losing it, I know they are on the verge of finding it. And this jolts me in a way that only the convergence of passion and purpose can ignite.
Once we reach this tipping point of experiencing the extreme sensation of what we don’t want, the key is, right in that moment, or as quickly as possible, to shift our stance energetically into the attitude and vibration of what we do want. The momentum will expand exponentially in either direction, and we usually don’t even realize it’s happening until we’re deeper in the negative spiral. The stronger we feel something, the bigger the energy, the more swift and powerful the momentum. This is why a bad morning becomes a bad day, or a bad mood becomes a more prevalent state of anxiety or depression. A ripple becomes a wave becomes a tsunami.
Here’s how it works. When we are stuck or miserable (usually both at once), we cry out to the Universe. “Hey. This SUCKS!” Take finances, for example. When we experience lack, we desire more. But instead of focusing on abundance or what we do want, we get caught in a scarcity loop. We get fearful and negative and dwell on what we don’t have or what we can’t do—and we offer the exact opposite energy of what we desire. Not surprisingly, we keep coming up short. We nullify our intention and cancel ourselves out energetically. Hence, stuck. Spinning our wheels, mud flying, going absolutely freaking nowhere but deeper into our own rut.
Let’s take relationships as another example. Say we are frustrated with our current partner, or lack of partner. We desire something more fulfilling, but instead of focusing on love, we exude an energy of resentment, loneliness and need. Naturally, this is more of a repellant than an aphrodisiac. Instead of attracting that special someone new, or deepening our connection with our current love, we attract more resentment, loneliness and need. Alas, not exactly the bliss we had in mind.
Related: Kristin on the Art of Love
I love the old therapy shtick from “The Bob Newhart Show.” Whatever the client brings up, Bob as therapist screams, “STOP IT!” in his face. Session over. Oh, if only it was that simple. Wait, then I would be out of a job, or my therapist job, anyway. People are never that simple. But the tipping point can be. We actually do have to stop it. The momentum, I mean.
When we notice the icky feeling of what we don’t want, instead of being pissed or disappointed, we can learn to get excited. Ah, here it is, a chance to clarify what I do want! If we don’t have the capacity in that moment to shift our vibration, the best possible thing to do is just stop. Stop thinking about it by thinking about something (anything!) else that feels better, or simply, stop thinking. Take a nap. Meditate. Go for a run. Pet your dog. Do anything to shift the current while it’s still a ripple, if you can. It takes some practice. Play with it. Dabble, gently, until you get the hang of it. Energy is powerful, and most of us have been mishandling it for a long-ass time.
Related: Kristin on the Don’ts of Dating Apps
Alignment is far better than struggle. Aligning our energy with what we want to do, what we want to have, where we want to go, who we want to be, who we want to be with and how we want to feel. After all, that’s what we’re really after, the deepest longing of all is how we think we will feel when ____.
Feel it first, then it comes. I realize this is the opposite of the way we do it, where we wait for it to come in order to feel it. We typically feel what we don’t want and align our energy with that. Stop it!
The momentum, the power, comes when we realize we can choose to feel the way we want, now.