How many times have you attempted to make a fresh start in life? Perhaps you ditch an unfulfilling job to start a new role or career that promises so much. Or you leave your partner and venture into a new relationship feeling assured that this one will be the one to work out the way you want. Maybe your fresh start is to switch location, change your mindset or begin a health and fitness campaign assuming that this will be the difference that makes the difference in your life.
And how many times have you found yourself creating similar (if not the exact same) set of conditions? The new one that you thought was The One turns out to be just as irritating, controlling or irresponsible as the old one. The job that starts with such promise creates the same burdens, frustrations and political games as the career you left behind. The diet slips, the motivation wanes or your positive outlook is wiped away in the face of incessant negativity from those around you.
You may make multiple attempts to reinvent anything and everything, yet somehow nothing really seems to change. The form may change, you may swap the players in the movie, it can even appear different to onlookers but far too often, the way we feel about our life alters very little.
What assumptions do we make about these patterns of stuckness? That change is hard? That life is conspiring against us? That we are hindered or obstructed by others? It’s probably no coincidence that the older we get, the more likely we are to resist making any dramatic changes in our lives. Youngsters will throw themselves whole-heartedly into a leap of faith. Being older usually means that life events have taught us to be more cautious. We learn that it is easier to stay in that unsatisfactory job or relationship rather than experience the repetition of the pattern once more.
The truth is that change isn’t difficult – in fact, it is a continual and never-ending process. The subatomic particles of your physical body are in a constant state of renewal. In fact, your lungs are really six weeks old and your taste buds have been around for just ten days. In a year’s time, the particles that make up your body now will have completely altered. We could even say that the ‘you’ that is reading the beginning of this sentence is not the same ‘you’ here at the end of the sentence. You may think you are the same but your body will be made up of a different structure of particles.
If all we are is changing, then why is making a fresh start so darn tough?!
Everything around us can change. Our physical bodies can change. What we want and desire can change. But there is one aspect of the whole system that has a propensity to remain constant and it is often overlooked – the point of consciousness that we call “I”.
The question therefore shouldn’t be how do we change our life but rather how do we transform our consciousness? Unless we make a shift in our level of consciousness, patterns will repeat and things will stay the same.
Most of the time our consciousness is offline – in other words, we are sleep walking!
How much of the day are you actually aware of? Consider your morning start. Were you conscious of showering or too busy mentally planning the day. Were you aware of brushing your teeth or thinking about what you needed to pick up for dinner? Were you present on your journey to work or anticipating the difficult meeting that lay in store. We are operating on auto-pilot — and that auto-pilot is handling the bulk of your day-to-day, moment-to-moment living. If your auto-pilot has not got the updated agenda of your wants and desires, then your life will still be following the old script.
Awareness is the key to transforming consciousness. Being present to our experiences ultimately gives us the freedom to live the life we really want. We have to move from being unconsciously moved to consciously choosing. You want to be fully aware of the anger arising within you before you shout at your partner or colleague – then you can choose to respond differently. Wouldn’t it be helpful to notice the food at your lips rather than wondering where the empty biscuit wrapper came from an hour later? And how valuable would it be to notice the stream of negative commentary in your head when you are offline before someone kindly (or cruelly) reflects it back to you?
A true fresh start can only ever come though a shift in our awareness. We need to learn to bring our consciousness into the present moment. When we are aware and awake enough to notice the patterns, then (and only then) do we have the choice to live differently.