One of the best ways to get moving in the right direction following the New Years celebrations is to reflect on the previous year.
While this is no secret, the odds are good that in combing through your previous shortcomings and successes, your perspective was biased--and that jaded perception caused you to overlook some very important observations.
As we move forward into the new year, with each of us having ambitious goals complete with financial incentives and personal fulfillment, it's important to pay attention to the subtle ways that we prevent our own success.
By discovering the root of our failures, we can work towards overcoming them in 2017.
Psychology is a useful tool. When properly applied, theoretical lenses and psychological concepts can help illuminate patterns that we didn't realize were present in our lives. In this article, I recommend that we take a closer look at what psychologists call experiential avoidance.
Experiential avoidance involves ongoing attempts to avoid thoughts, feelings, memories, or physical sensations--even when doing so is costly or harmful.
We all do this to some extent, don't we? When we feel anxious, we attempt to avoid that anxiety by having a glass of wine. Others attempt to avoid feelings of sadness or emptiness by eating chocolate.
As a culture, we are trained to avoid uncomfortable internal sensations by getting lost in the world of cell phones, computers, and flat screen televisions. While having a few go-to coping mechanisms isn't problematic, continuing to avoid unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and perceptions comes at a major cost--our happiness.
The more that we try to avoid these so-called negative experiences, the worse feelings we create. For example, have you ever been anxious about feeling anxious? What about being sad or angry that you're feeling depressed?
Even if you aren't experiencing anxiety or depression, you too can be engaging in experiential avoidance. You too contribute to your own suffering by avoiding uncomfortable thoughts and feelings and seeking out pleasant experiences that aren't ultimately fulfilling.
When you immerse yourself in your work to avoid feelings of inadequacy, or when you donate money to charity to push away thoughts of selfishness, these acts will fail to bring you the deep sense of fulfillment you desire. You won't find these activities satisfying because your primary motivation is to avoid unpleasant thoughts and feelings, rather than enjoy the moments themselves.
Intention is everything--and when you seek to avoid unwanted experiences, you drain the joy of being present. You become oriented to the past and continue inviting negative experiences into your life.
If you want to attract abundance in 2017, then you need to start by practicing one simple habit: making room for uncomfortable experiences.
The more that you can give yourself permission to feel and accept uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, the less power they have to determine your future. Allow yourself to fully experience thoughts and feelings that aren't pleasant.
Know that your goals and good intentions are enough to propel you through those negative experiences. When the hot water isn't working and you have an exciting job interview to attend, you're willing to experience the discomfort of bathing in cold temperatures because the opportunity is worth the cost.
Keep your eyes fixed on your well-intentioned goals, and trust that you will survive and overcome whatever unpleasant thoughts and feelings arise. With that newfound confidence, you can be intentional with your time, set goals according to your values, and live a successful and happy 2017.