by Holly Hurban, Ph.D., TBT volunteer and former board member
“Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” ― Eckhart Tolle
The post-holiday season, particular when we pass the new year, frequently entails a re-evaluation of where we’ve been and what we hope for, as well as hollow promises to somehow be different. I use the term “hollow” because the truth is that in every moment we can choose to be different or new. It simply doesn’t involve the turn of a new year, or any other symbolic gesture, or even spending significant time in thought, building up some limiting expectations of ourselves. We can just be new right now.
When we promise ourselves to suddenly change because a new year has passed, we frequently end up with the same old disappointment, regret, and self-deprecating thoughts when the old habit shows its ugly head, and we then beat ourselves up for failing to keep our promise to ourselves in the random time-frame that we’ve created. Being new is often a process, like everything else, and always takes a lot of practice. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. When I think of that saying, I believe it comes from the fact that carefully thought out plans don’t necessarily bring positive results; practice does.
Being someone new or doing something new in any given situation is the beginning of personal change, and proves absolutely that we can do it, whatever “it” is. When that one situation or moment becomes the next, and we again choose a “new way,” after awhile these moments string together and we honestly start to feel like a new person. The feeling comes after the practice. Moreover, if we are able to accept that behaving in a new way always feels uncomfortable, we can drop our storyline that these feelings of discomfort equals failure. In fact, this discomfort really resembles courage more than anything else.
The value inherent in the Truth Be Told programs is the fact that they introduce incarcerated women to the practice of being someone new and a window into the possibilities of a new way of life. Graduating from a TBT program means that a woman has the courage to take this opportunity while incarcerated to become something different or new, regardless of the cell she returns to or the unwavering voices that may be telling her it is not possible.
In fact, my guess is that after a graduation some women may feel like they can’t maintain this new way of being. But to that I say, “so what?” It is just a passing thought and just a passing feeling, nothing more. If change doesn’t happen immediately after a graduation, then maybe it will happen in a moment tomorrow or whenever another moment arises that they remember the courage to be new. When a person can say “so what?” to their internal negative dialogue or doubts, then true choice can take over, and practice can begin.
So, as you contemplate the beginning of 2014 and the changes you might want to make in your life, remember that change happens one decision and one action at a time. Failure is not making another poor choice. Failure is allowing your emotions or negative stories to keep you from trying to make better choices in the moments that will come after the turn of the new year.