In early December, the guy at the desk at my gym commented on how busy things will be early in January, and then laughed wryly and said, “Well, you can always just wait until February when things get back to normal.” People embrace big changes at the beginning of the new year, as if that particular moment in time is especially potent for change-making.
I have participated in this ritual for many years, setting intentions and identifying things I want to move toward. Today, though, I wonder about it a bit. Change is a constant. Change is always happening, and often we resist and regret change. So why do we want to embrace personal change on January first?
I am thinking it is all (ALL) about control or at least the illusion of control. If I decide what kind of change I want, and how I want to accomplish that change, then I am not at the mercy of the random-feeling sorts of changes that happen without my permission and without even notification. This isn’t true, of course, but it is a way that we can comfort ourselves into feeling safe. Yes, I can go to the gym every day and eat nothing but lettuce leaves, and that will keep me safe from really big painful changes. Maybe it will just numb me to other changes, or keep me so preoccupied with trying to stay on track that I don’t have to acknowledge that somebody had died, that my job isn’t satisfying, that my children are struggling and that I don’t know how to help them.
So that’s a theory for today. But even cursory notice makes it clear that it is an illusion. We actually live in a world where we have little control. In the realm of our personal behaviour we do experience ourselves as being able to make choices and manage our responses, but that’s often because we don’t realize the degree to which we have been limited and programmed by our previous experiences or deeply entrenched beliefs.