Photo courtesy of Linda J. Etim:
“We must come to the realization that it is OK to put our needs first.” – Linda J. Etim
What are YOUR intentions for the new year? We asked Linda J. Etim, founder and CEO of The Creative Express, Inc., to share her insights on helping others find creative solutions to complex issues.
Minnesota Women’s Press: Many people intend to make changes at the beginning of a year. It is one thing to state an intention; it is another thing to follow through with it. What are your thoughts around making change in our lives?
Linda J. Etim: Your thoughts whether they are positive or negative will lead to some actions related to those thoughts. In many instances, what we wind up doing, even though we want to change something, is to take the past with us into the future. We will replicate our past over and over because that is what we’re most familiar with.
Because we are afraid of the uncertainty of the future, it is convenient to take the past with us even though that can sabotage our future growth. You have to set an intention to let the old patterns go. In order to change, that actually requires one to go through a ritual of leaving the past and the negative thoughts that get in the way of making these changes.
Take some time, relax, get yourself into a quiet state of mind. Think about circumstances or events in your past that are interfering with your ability to move forward. Then go through a process of deleting [these negative thoughts].
You can write on paper about the event or circumstance with all the pain that is related to it. Then you can burn it or throw it [away]. Recognize that it is no longer a part of your life or who you are. Say goodbye to it and let it go. Then replace the negative with positive events or circumstances that you want [in your life].
For example, if it is a bad relationship, you can change your relationship blueprint to attract the kind of mate that you do want. You can reprogram yourself by writing a list of the traits you want in this new relationship. Make a poster with these traits and put it in places where you will see it daily. By doing so, you are changing your blueprint and over time your thoughts will lead to some action that is related to these new positive thoughts. You are deleting old files and creating new files. You are acting on these new positive thoughts-the ones you want to take into the future with you.MWP: You speak about using your instincts. What does that mean to you?Etim: [One way to] get in touch with your instincts is to understand your body. The body does not lie. In any situation, you need to pay attention to what your body is saying. You might be at a nightclub and someone approaches you. Your body will signal if you are in a good place with this person. Your body will start to show signs of discomfort [if you are not]. It’s a natural thing that happens. Pay attention to your body-if it starts to tense up or breathing becomes shallow or you start to sweat. Very often we do not pay attention to those things, but that is your body’s way of signaling to you that you are not in a good place. And that is a part of how your instincts protect you. Your body will tell you.
MWP: What kind of advice would you have for women on the beginning of a new year?
Etim: I would challenge [people] to make a strategic plan. It looks like a formal strategic plan for a business except that it is your personal strategic plan.
To start out, look at the things in the previous year that went well and things that did not. Make sure that the things that went well are the things that go forward with you. The things that did not go well-delete those files. Don’t take that negativity or bad experience into the new year.
I create the intentions for the new year. My personal strategic plan is designed to help me to fulfill the intentions I have set.
I create a mission statement-a quick statement of where I am going this year. Then I set goals for each intention that I have and action steps to achieve my goals. That becomes the plan.
Whatever the plan is and whatever the action is, you have to have the action steps to go with it and a timeline.
MWP: Do you see shared obstacles for women?
Etim: One problem we as women have is that we are socialized to put others’ needs before our own. We must come to the realization that it is OK to put our needs first. [For example,] if you are a mother breast-feeding your baby and you don’t feed yourself first, you will not produce milk to feed your child. You will both perish. In order to take care of someone else, you must take care of yourself first-and it is OK to do that. That doesn’t mean that you are neglecting others, but you need to take care of yourself in a way that is healthy for you and for all of us. If you try to do it the other way, you will end up burning out. It is not selfish. It is the sensible thing to do. I think everyone should start out with that at the beginning of the year-taking care of yourself.
FFI: : Linda J. Etim is a licensed independent clinical social worker in Osseo, Minn. Under the pen name Miranda J. Houston, she blogs and is the author of “The Psychology of Abusive/Predatory Relationships.” www.lindaetim.com