New Year’s Eve Anxiety : Endings and Beginnings

photoIt’s December 31st 2013 and tomorrow it’ll be 2014. Whilst one year ends the next one begins and this is a pivotal time for reflection, looking back and for contemplating the future. This time of year can also bring with it a great deal of anxiety – from the pressure of having to have fun and being part of a group as we see in the New Year in to dealing with the aftermath of Christmas and the dread of returning to studies or work.

Questions might arise such as; What am I doing with my life? Where are things going? What have I achieved? What should I be doing? These are all queries that put enormous pressure on us to do or be something other than we already are. Then, of course, when this time of year roles around again and we haven’t transformed our lives as we promised ourselves earlier in the year we focus on what we haven’t yet done rather that what we have done and so the cycle starts over again.

In our culture we have leaned to judge the end of things as often negative but, whilst endings can bring with them a natural degree of sadness and worry, we forget to allow room for the other side of the coin, namely beginnings. If we are mourning the loss of a loved one it is only natural that we allow ourselves time to grieve and mourn their absence. Other endings such as loosing a job or the end of a relationship can, similarly, take us into a place of despair and hopelessness. We dwell on the feelings of rejection or loneliness, which means our recovery takes longer or our confidence is knocked entirely.

Instead, we could to allow both truths to co-exist understanding that, whilst something ends something else begins. This is the law of change that exists throughout the entire universe. Incorporating this universal truth into our lives means allowing ourselves to fully experience whatever the end of something brings up for us. At the same time we can turn towards the other reality where a new beginning is already taking place. In doing this we don’t allow ourselves to deny our wounded feelings nor do we completely lose ourselves within our challenging emotions. Instead, we allow both to run side by side until we are ready to let go of the ending process and embrace the possibilities that the beginnings also offers us. In doing this we enable hope and optimism.

So whether you’re coming to the end of a project, a relationship, a job or simply contemplating the end of the year spend some time also allowing space for beginnings by asking yourself – what is beginning right now, who am I from this moment on? If you find your mind travelling into the future and dwelling in fear gently bring it back to the present moment.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Alexander Graham Bell

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Coming to the end ..

Today is the ‘End of time’ according to the ancient Mayans. Whilst their calender ends today after nearly five and a half thousand years there was nothing to suggest an apocalypse yet across the globe thousands of people are preparing for our imminent conclusion. There is much debate about why it ends so abruptly but endings tend to have that element of surprise and the unknown about them.

Even those who were completely unaware of the calender and its significance, are now drawn into it’s web due to our mass global media. On the internet there is talk of people in China frantically stocking up on candles lest the sun be extinguished. Meanwhile, a friend of mine is gathering with others on a hill in Glastonbury to mark the end of time and celebrate the winter equinox. She assures me that she will be thinking of me should the earth come to a grinding halt.

Within therapy we often work with endings. The end of relationships. The death of a loved one. Loss of health. The end of a job. Within the difficulties that all these situations present there is also the beginning of something, even if it’s the beginning of the grieving process.

At the end of a therapy session I tell my clients that we have a few minutes left before we need to pause. Whilst it’s an end in itself our work is often on-going so I prefer the term ‘pause’. Eventually our work comes to an end and I like to allow a good few weeks to tie up any loose ends and review what has happened as well as what needs to happen next. In doing this we honor our work together recognising that whilst there are endings there are also beginnings.