The Malta Independent 17 August 2022, Wednesday

Gaining self-development and joyfulness by being more mindful and compassionate

Giulia Magri Tuesday, 28 January 2020, 15:30 Last update: about 4 years ago

As January comes to an end, we look at our new year’s resolutions list with a sense of dread. We more or less all have the same list, you know the ones, quit smoking, start exercising, eat healthier, spend less time online, etc. A daunting list we try to stick to once the New Year’s countdown is over, yet studies show that around 80% of people fail to stick to their New Year’s resolutions for longer than six weeks.

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 I fall under this category of people who fail to stick to those new habits, so when I first heard of Emma Hogg’s “New Year Evolution Workshop”, I was intrigued. Emma is a psychotherapist and founder of ‘A Life I Choose’, “which is a self-development agency that guides clients to amplify their strengths so they can overcome any challenge and create a life that truly fulfils them.”

This was Emma’s second year holding the New Year Evolution Workshop, a place to understand more about your own purpose and break away from the self-doubt which holds us back from taking those exciting steps to grow and bring more value as a person. Apart from learning more about the importance of mindfulness and self-development, I also spoke to Emma, who explained that it is not about an endless list of resolutions, but the way we want these new habits to evolve us into the people we want to grow to be.

Moving away from resolution to evolution

When I first entered the workshop, it became apparent that I was about to share a lot of personal beliefs and fears with complete strangers, but after a while I realised that whilst we are all different, we all had very similar goals for the new year. Some participants wanted to get a head start in their business; others wanted to get in better shape and to feel more confident. Others generally wanted to learn how to become more focused on being happy. Some were hesitant and shy to open up to complete strangers at first, but in the end it was truly comforting.

When I asked Emma how it felt for her to watch strangers engage with one another, she felt privileged and excited to be part of the process. “It truly lights me up. At the start everyone is a bit hesitant, but by the end of it you watch everyone opening up and sharing. I believe that helps metabolise the shame we all carry.” She said that every single person carries shame, shame that halts us from getting what we want, and sharing this helps people feel less alone. 

Throughout the workshop Emma shared her own experiences of learning to grow and achieve her goals. She told us why resolutions never really work and how it was time to replace resolutions with evolution. “To move away from that, we need to drop the r - This stands for repetition; repetitive behaviour - and trade self-doubt with value-driven choices.”

She said that the workshop is a place to understand those value driven choices, and in a safe space, people reconnect with themselves and set targets for self-growth which is in alignment with their purpose. “When it is in alignment with their purpose, they are not just setting a target, but are experiencing joy, fulfilment and excitement,” she expressed. “When you experience these positive emotions on a daily basis, this has a ripple effect on the people around you.”

Emma said that it is important to understand that we should not limit ourselves to having just one purpose or passion. “We need not to see our purpose as just one big thing,” she explained. “The majority of us are multi-passionate and we can truly tune in with what our purpose is by listening to what we are passionate about and doing more of that.” Throughout our time together, Emma drilled the importance of being more mindful and compassionate to ourselves; understanding that even once we know what we want to work on during the year, that it will take time and effort. “You won’t walk out of this workshop ‘fixed,’ she said, “but you will come out with the knowledge and understanding as to what you need to do in order to grow and achieve what you want this year.”

She said that there will be challenging moments, feelings of hurt and anger, but it is important to understand the situation one finds themselves in. “Stopping to be mindful is extremely important to our society, especially given what we are going through; the distrust, blame, people shrugging off responsibility. We cannot wait for the government to save our morals, we need to make the difference, to treat people more kindly and in doing so treat ourselves more kindly as well.”

In this day and age mindfulness is becoming more valued

Throughout the workshop, Emma kept going back to the point of being a compassionate and mindful to help obtain our goals for the New Year. I questioned her whether in this day and age we have pushed away from those values, she insisted that the opposite was happening, that people now are learning the value of it. “In the past it was easier to be mindful, there were fewer distractions and we didn’t have information constantly bombarding us. I believe people are coming back to being mindful, and practicing what we want and understanding what they want.”

We also spoke about living a more holistic lifestyle, and the importance of being more aware, through mindfulness of our patterns and behaviours. “We need to observe ourselves, and it is important to take the next steps to change those behaviours we are not happy with. That is why it is all about a life I choose; the first steps are awareness, which comes from mindfulness, but it is not only enough to be aware; we need to take the necessary steps to change those patterns.”

Whilst it is easier said than done, Emma explained throughout the workshop that it is essential to decode our fear and understand what stops us from taking certain actions. “I remember I too used to find it challenging to replace the belief that nobody liked me to the belief that I am loved and wanted. Once I changed my beliefs, now that I like myself more, I feel I have grown so much. Once we take that fear and decode it, we can achieve so much.”

Apart from setting goals and decoding fear, Emma also spoke about the importance of allowing yourself time. “If we are always in a state of ‘go’ mode, your body will be in fight or flight mode constantly,” she explained. “If we want to heal, we need to let go and relax; to give our mind the time to process what we have been through. We need to remember that we do not need to achieve 100 things, but prioritise a few things and grow and evolve out of those achievements.”

“A Life I Choose” has been a three year project, which Emma explained has been one of the biggest gifts to her. “At the beginning I was not so sure what I was doing, but now I see that people find value in what I do and that it is always rewarding when someone has messaged me to thank me for what I taught them and how they have gained fulfilment and joy.” She said that one of the next steps for A Life I Choose is to produce an audio course for people to listen to and to practice at home. “I would also like to start a podcast is well, and create another workshop. My vision is to create an international business, which has already started, and to have a brand which empowers people to create life on their own terms.”

I asked Emma to reveal the one thing a person should do to improve their quality of life; She said to find a practice that brings gratitude and mindfulness. “Find something which you can practice and which you will integrate as a habit. Be honest with yourself always and if you can, find a mentor to help you. We grow and learn from each other and deepen our self-awareness, understand our choices and act on them. Power is not only through knowledge, but through action.”

 

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