You may have a great opportunity before you, presented by a New Year.  As we stand at the end of the old and the start of the new, many of us may automatically review what has gone by and what lies ahead.  We may reflect on our lives and ask whether we’re happy or not; whether our life is going in the direction we wish – or not.

New Year’s resolutions are a manifestation of this but the trouble is that often they don’t last.  Sometimes the hopes they hold are dashed within days, even hours.  But a deep resolve, a firm intention, a genuine ambition – well, that may be something quite different.  That can be the start of something new and life-bringing.

A friendly pain

Perhaps the spur to these hopes for the future is pain or dissatisfaction in the present.  Something’s wrong and it hurts or nags.  A natural reflex to such discomfort is to look away and divert our thoughts into something happier.  But wait a moment.  Maybe we should allow that discomfort to speak to us.  Maybe we should allow the pain to do its work.  Maybe it has something to tell us.  Maybe it’s prompting us.  Maybe it’s our friend.

Are we the project?

Given its head, the dissatisfaction may speak of new work, new challenges, new relationships, new interests, new hobbies, new homes, new countries – who knows what else?  But it may also speak of work needing to be done right in the heart of ourselves.  We may secretly know that that is where the future needs to begin, that outer change is only going to flow from inner change.

If this could be you, it may be worth pondering whether psychotherapy is a journey that you need to go on.  It can introduce you to a ‘you’ that you never knew existed and there is a possibility that it can bring healing where it’s most needed.  And in the process, as the inner world begins to change, so may the outer world.

Getting started, of course, can be scary.  It is indeed scary to get in touch with someone you’ve never met with a view to talking to them about some of the things that matter most to you.

Trusting an inner voice

At such times perhaps that inner voice can help us – the inner voice calling us to make changes.  There may be something intangible about it but we may have a sense that there’s a truth there that we need to listen to.

Thomas Hardy wrote a poem that’s not so far removed from this.  It’s a poem about the promise of new life in the apparent bleakness of winter’s depths.  Called ‘The Darkling Thrush’ it paints a picture of a frosty ‘spectre-grey’ world where everything seems dead and desolate.  But all of a sudden there’s an irruption of nothing less than joy as a small, frail thrush ‘in blast-beruffled plume’ bursts into song.  Just maybe the thrush knows something:

‘So little cause for carolings

Of such ecstatic sound

Was written on terrestrial things

Afar or nigh around,

That I could think there trembled through

His happy good-night air

Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew

And I was unaware.’