Breaking up patterns that no longer serve us
Cultivating the attitude of newness is a simple but extremely effective way to break up patterns that no longer serve us—and perhaps never have. It frees us from seeing life through the lens of our past experiences, enabling us to perceive what’s really going on.
One of my clients, for example, is a woman who has felt hurt by a number of men in her life: her father, brother and her former husband. When she clings to this way of seeing her relationships, she concludes that all men are emotionally dangerous to her; but when she looks at those relationships from the perspective of newness, she’s able to see men as individuals, some cruel and others kind.
Two exercises for embracing newness
In my classes I offer two simple exercises, which you can easily try on your own as a way to explore the benefits of newness. Each involves envisioning a familiar aspect of your life as you habitually see and experience it, and then envisioning it from the perspective of newness.
If you’re like many of my students, in the first visualization, you’re likely to see problems—details that seem wrong or need to be cleaned or fixed. You may feel worried or annoyed about these particulars.
The second time, when you see your home anew, you’re likely to see a more complete picture. The specifics needing to be addressed, cleaned or fixed are all part of a larger whole, which also might encompass pleasure and appreciation.
Through the perspective of newness, you’ll likely come to see your home with enhanced clarity. You may experience more gratitude, without denying that there’s still work to be done. You might realize that it’s time to move!
Again, if you’re like my students, you’ll experience an emotional shift and a change in perspective. My students initially tend to see drawbacks and difficulties when they look at a relationship through the lens of habit, fixating on areas where things aren’t going well. Newness broadens their scope, enabling them to see difficulties as challenges that can lead to positive change if resolved creatively.
Their view often undergoes some adjustment. Someone riddled with shortcomings is seen as a person who holds potential and qualities yet to be discovered. What was closed becomes open. Where once there was only criticism, now there is also appreciation, as well as greater clarity about of how to proceed—that is, whether to continue working to solve problems or to let go of the relationship and move on.
Looking at yourself with newness
You’ll discover that a shift in perception also occurs when you look at yourself with newness. One student remarked that when she looked at herself as she normally does, she saw the “same ole, same ole, same ole”—a feeling of being “sort of dense, weighted.” When she looked at herself while affirming, “I am filled with newness and I see myself anew,” she felt “free,” as if she “had wings.”
In fact, quite a number of my students use terms related to lightness when they describe the difference they experience once they shift from habitual perception to the attitude of newness. As one of my students observed, “When I looked at my ‘regular’ self, I felt like there were weights on my eyelids and my cheeks.” But when he looked at himself through the perspective of newness, the weights disappeared.
Clearing away distorted perceptions
It’s important to keep in mind that the attitude of newness doesn’t necessarily show things in a “better” light, but rather in a more accurate light.
When I recently looked at myself in the mirror in an ordinary way, for example, I felt capable, expanded, and productive—all good things, obviously. But when I affirmed that I was filled with newness, I noticed that I hadn’t completely recovered from a recent head cold, so I needed to slow my pace, take care of myself, and accept my limitations.
Perceiving from newness clears away our distorted perceptions, whether they cause us to see only our weaknesses or only our unlimited Spirit. The perception of newness offers a more complete picture.