I was talking with one of my clients the other day about how when we’re getting ready to let go of an old, painful pattern, it usually seems to get worse. It seems worse because (yay!) we notice it more. We’re really, really aware of how terribly incongruent this pattern is with the new-us-we-are-becoming. So of course it feels more painful than it ever has before.
When a pattern is really painful, I know my tendency can be to get really hard on myself about it. “How could you create this mess?” “How can you be here, again?” “Are you never going to learn from your stuff?”
These kinds of thoughts are like a smokescreen, or code, for: big internal changes are happening, and they scare me, so I need to slow down the process by being really hard on myself. Then I have something to struggle with and rail against, so I can ensure that the change is as slow as a part of me needs it to be.
The part of me who is deep and wise knows that I don’t need to do this; I don’t need to make the process harder than it is. Actually, when a pattern is playing itself out and it’s really, really painful, this is the time to step back and be the observer. I don’t have to do anything; I don’t have to fight with the pattern or try to get rid of it.
By the time I’m noticing how acutely painful it is, it’s already on its way out.
Mixed in with the pain of “this so doesn’t work for me anymore” is, believe it or not, some grief — sometimes a lot of grief. A coping mechanism that, on some level, has been useful for (often) many years is being let go. There’s sadness in that. That coping mechanism has become part of my identity, so, truly, I am letting go of something that feels like me (even if it isn’t).
In these periods of watching old patterns rev themselves up to high speed until they burn up and work themselves out of my system, it can be so gratifying to notice tiny new good-feeling things that enter my life. As the old stuff is leaving, I like to set an intention to notice what feels new and good and light.
The new and the good and the light are so often commonplace AND unexpected. Like this morning when I was getting dressed, I saw this sweater in the bottom of my drawer that I’d bought a long time ago but never really worn. I put it on and smelled the sharp, fresh scent of new wool and it felt so snuggly and cocoon-like.
And then when I was reaching into my drawer for my earrings, I noticed this blue jay pin I love but haven’t ever worn much, either, and I put it on the sweater. And it looked like it was made for that sweater, like, how could I not have put these two things together before?
A tiny thing, yes, putting a pin on a sweater. But tiny bits of newness can be powerful. Because I’ve never put this sweater and this blue jay together before, they are already creating a tiny new alchemy that is about now, not then. Good to notice as the old stuff comes up to be kissed goodbye and released.
Try this: Experiment with tiny change. Move two tiny things in your house to new places, or put two things next to each other that have never shared the same space before. Notice what this tiny change sets into motion for you.
Coaching in the New Year: I have limited open slots for new coaching clients. If change is on the horizon for you, or you’re already knee-deep in it and need some support, check out my one-on-one coaching. Consultations are always free!
4 thoughts on “The power of tiny new things”
Jill, what you say is so true. I saw the last time I was at my mom’s house that I was holding on to the rituals of cooking, sitting in front of the fire, even though except for the kitchen, the cupboards and closets are now empty. And she is not there. Having recognized this attachment, I’m beginning to let go, even if grieving. Both my son and I are trying to savor some of my mother’s things we brought home, to welcome them into their new location.
I’m glad this resonated for you, Fredrica. It’s so understandable and natural that you’d want to hold on to those rituals. And just really be with them for as long as it takes. (It takes as long as it takes.) So much kindness and compassion for you as you go through this process. Thanks so much for reading!
speaking as one very much in the midst of large life transitions – that of course have repercussions on all of my smaller patterns and habits and coping mechanisms – i am dealing with something like this right now, and it’s consoling to hear some sage counsel and the encouragement that this is a stage, and if you ride it out, it gets better. i will make sure to find time to notice little new and good things this coming week. 🙂 thanks!
Ingrid, I’m so glad this was helpful for you! Big transitions are truly challenging, especially since we’re doing a lot of letting go but usually unclear about what’s coming next. Best wishes with noticing those tiny new things in the coming week! Thanks for your comment. 🙂
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