I’d like to ask you a question that a good friend raised and that is ‘how we are stepping into 2021?’. We are already one month into the new year, how are you standing? Are you feeling balanced or are you standing wobbly? Have you even crossed over or are you still where 2020 left you? You see, how you are standing, one month in, is a reflection of how you stepped in. So how did you step into 2021?
Imagine 2021 was a solid platform and you needed to take a literal step onto it in order to move on, how would you describe what that step was like?
Was it confident and deliberate? Did you know exactly where you were stepping as you were moving forward?
Was it tentative and curious? Were you not sure how to, but you knew you had to?
Was it staggering and off balance? Were you thrust into 2021, ready or not?
Was it swift and eager? Were you excited about what the year has in store for you and couldn’t wait to get started?
Obviously 2021 is not a tangible platform that we can literally step onto, so this applies more to our mental state and mindset.
With what mindset did you start the year?
Mindset refers to your beliefs and general attitude, i.e. what are your beliefs and attitudes towards life and the world? For example, if one believes that life is generally tough then their attitude will be that of expecting constant strife and struggle. They will see moments of ease as more exceptions than the norm. On the other hand if one believes that life is generally good their attitude will be that of expecting good and when things go wrong they will see those moments more as exceptions.
It is important for us to monitor and understand our mindset as it informs how we live and how we relate with others. Psychologists talk about fixed mindset (the belief and attitude that things will either never change or they will only get worse) and a growth mindset (the belief and attitude that things can/do change and get better). I used to have a fixed mindset about life. I believed that people got to a point in their lives where they could no longer change and that the way life worked was that some things are final and will never change.
My mind was especially fixed when it comes to my spiritual life. I had one way of looking at God and that affected what I believed about Him and my attitude towards Him. Slowly I’ve come to realise that perhaps He’s not as stiff and rigid and scary as I’d grown up believing.
My mindset was also fixed in terms of how I view hardships. For a long time I believed that life was generally tough and all one could do was to just survive. And that if you behaved, you could perhaps get off lightly but if you misbehaved then you were doomed, life would definitely punish you.
So I lived my life trying to be good, ticking boxes and making sure I don’t step out of line. If things went wrong I knew that at some level it had to be my punishment. Fortune and goodness often surprised me as they were rather unexpected. Kindness always shocked me to tears.
I used to ask a lot of 'why' questions.
I needed to know why unpleasant things were happening so that I could somehow avoid them happening again. The 'why' questions can also come as why-me or why-now. I would spend hours trying to figure things out. I would also try to get God to answer my why questions. I felt if anyone knew He would.
I got to a point in life where I realised that the 'why' question did nothing but fill me with more anxiety and disappointment, so I slowly started moving away from them. I accepted that perhaps I may never find out the 'why' to all my questions, but then I became adamant about things needing to be fixed.
A heavy load to carry
What I did was to substitute my why-questions with expectations. My mindset became that of ‘fix it’. I may not have been able to explain why but I sure was going to fix things. In fact, between me and God things were going to get fixed. I needed God to do right so that my hardships could be validated. So my mindset was that of ‘I’ll fix it’ or ‘fix it Lord’. This fixing extended to people as well. The variation of that which I also adopted was ‘fix me Lord’. Clearly if things were going wrong then it must be something I’m doing wrong so I needed a fix. These mindsets riddled most of my teen and young adult years. You can imagine how heavy a load this was to carry but I thought it was normal.
Even though these mindsets still linger somewhere at the back of my mind and show up every now and then especially in moments of doubt, insecurity, confusion or fear, I’m glad to say over the years I’ve slowly but surely started having a mindset shift.
So where am I now and what has it got to do with how I’m stepping into 2021?
Well, for the last couple of years my prayer has been that of peace of mind. I have been praying for the ability to remain calm and present despite any external factors. I want to be open to what the moments bring and respond appropriately at the time. And this is how I’m stepping into 2021.
I want my mindset in 2021 to be that of acceptance that life will happen, both good and bad. When the good happens I will celebrate and be grateful. When the bad happens I will do my best to respond appropriately and then move on swiftly.
Its important to realise that a mindset is not established at the moment of need but long before. It is accessed and relied on as and when one makes choices and decisions. Which means that we have a choice about what our mindset is going to be long before we need it.
So I ask you, how are YOU CHOOSING to step into 2021?
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