How to Heal Broken Wings – 10 Things We Should Do for Ourselves

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"If you believe in victory, then victory will believe in you." Paolo Coelho

“I will change!” – It’s something that we sometimes say, or hear from others, and we say it or hear it on some occasions more than others.

I start running at half past five, heading for a forest park. As I progress along the route I only recognise a few of the people that I saw yesterday, on New Year’s Day.

It is the same every year. The first week you see plenty of people bursting with resolutions, and the gyms and trails and forest paths are full of these well-meaning warriors, lifting and running and riding the wave of enthusiasm that comes with the beginning of the year. But by the second week the field has thinned out somewhat as enthusiasm for their new year’s resolutions becomes a memory, and the rosy glow of that fresh start has faded.

This is the time when the difficulty of sustaining a lifestyle change rears its ugly head. The changers suddenly realise that breaking out of your old routine is hard, and that they only work while you do.

I’m not criticizing them for lapsing. People mean well. They want to change, and they embark on new ways of living with the best of intentions. But lasting change takes something more than just good intentions. We are creatures of habit and it can be hard to break from the comfort of a familiar routine without some adjustments to our thinking, because the things that we say to ourselves often give us permission to fail and stick with the familiar:

I can’t do it – we say when we fail.

I am not worth it – we say when someone else disappoints us.

These well-practised thoughts only serve to support our helplessness and hold us back.

I devoted a couple of chapters in my book 250 Laws of Love to exploring how we can manage new beginnings, whether at work, in a relationship, in ourselves, so I will not revisit all that here. Here I’m assuming that starting something new is not a problem for you, and that the problem only comes when you have to pick yourself up again after a fall and keep going.

Sticking with what you’ve always known if it does not fulfil you is a kind of poverty. No matter how wealthy you are you will always feel poor if you don’t have what you want, so the key is to change it. Change what it is that you want.

Why do we resist change? Why do we run at it with such determination then suddenly feel uncomfortable, trip and fall? Perhaps it’s because most of us humans like certainty, we also think that we want the novelty of change to spice up our lives. The rewards that come with change – a fitter, better body, hangover-free mornings, a job where we feel valued, a partner loves and respects us – we would love to experience them all, but getting them means change and change means embracing the unfamiliar.

It was 2 January, 5:45. I saw a runner on the horizon, slogging up the rise when he suddenly stopped. When I got to him I said,

– “You have to run up the hill, YOU HAVE TO.”

– “I can’t,” he gasped. It was a stupid resolution. I’m too old for this.”

– “You are too old not too! Let me run with you. Or just walk. We can finish this together.”

He smiled and started walking. After a while, he quickened his pace as the despair left him, he got his breath back and soon managed to run again. Not quickly of course, but that wasn’t the goal. He was moving because he had willed himself to. One foot in front of the other, each step a step on the path to change, each one accomplished only because he willed it.

We chatted afterwards. This was a man whose everyday job was to say, “Hello, how can I help you?” to people.

He was professionally employed to put other people’s needs before his own, but unfortunately this worthy practice seemed to have carried over into his private life too. Instead of putting other people first, he needed to be able to look at himself in the mirror more often and say, “Hello, how can I help you?

I know how people feel when their expectations have not been met. When they feel like they have failed, when they have forgotten their true value. But these are things that we have to expect. New beginnings are things that we have to expect too, doubling our resolve and trying again.

What exactly should we do for ourselves in the long term?

What should we begin with and keep doing regardless of whether we achieve our goal or not?

What is so powerful that it can keep us afloat, even when we start feeling we are worthless and that sense of worthlessness drains us?

Any time people feel anxious and hopeless, they usually know instinctively what things to avoid that will make things worse, but they don’t always know what things they SHOULD do to make things better.

Here are 10 recommendations which can heal broken wings. They do not result in just fulfilling a resolution, but in changing your whole life.

Perhaps they will help you.

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