The Last Jedi, New Year's Resolutions, and Orienting Principle

There are spoilers in this blog. If you have not seen The Last Jedi and you want to, stop reading this and go see the movie right now.  

I successfully avoided spoilers for almost three weeks before seeing The Last Jedi on New Year's Eve.  It was incredible, and while I hated waiting so long to see it, it was completely worth the wait. There was something strangely on point about seeing this installment of the Star Wars saga on the eve of a holiday all about setting intentions and working to make important changes in your life. While I could wax poetic about the cosmic and archetypal offerings of TLJ all day, two seemingly unrelated scenes struck a very deep chord with me.

Kylo Ren is in his TIE fighter and the first order is gaining on the Rebel cruiser. Ren has the opportunity to blast the cruiser and send the commanding Rebel scum right into deep space. But he feels those pesky Force tingles as he gets his mother, our beloved General Organa, in his sights, and he takes his finger off the trigger. For a moment Leia seems safe and there is hope for Kylo's turn back to the light after all- but it's only a moment because two more imperial fighters swoop in behind Ren and destroy the command deck of the rebel cruiser.  Ugh. 

Luke has HAD it. He's so sick of the Jedi bullshit, he's ready to burn the whole temple to the ground! He's marching up to the sacred tree, torch in hand when an old friend appears out of the ethers of the Force to check up on him. Much to Luke's surprise, Yoda seems all for Luke's rash plan. It's as if he can sense Luke's hesitation. Our green puppet friend gives his support and even nudges the Force to rain fire from the sky when Skywalker baulks and decides not to light things up. Luke's obvious hesitation becomes full-blown regret as he tries to save the sacred texts but to no avail. They're gone and Yoda couldn't be happier.

In both of these scenes we see the main characters making a singular positive choice, Kylo to not kill his mom and Luke to destroy the Jedi Texts (yes, that was a good thing). In Kylo's scenario, even though the Force is obviously pulling him toward the light, something steps in and stomps out the effects of his momentary change of heart. With Luke, he's dead set on burning down the temple, but at the last minute he chickens out. Then that something steps in again to make sure Luke's original plan sees it's completion. So, why did Luke's momentary positive change succeed and Kylo's didn't? What is it that seemed to take over in both situations? Why is it so damn hard to keep New Year's Resolutions?!?!

Orienting Principle. Essentially, what we build our life around is what will come to pass in our lives. There's really no way around it. Kylo has a change of heart and doesn't want to kill his mom, but he's spent the last 20 years dedicating his life to the Dark Side. So, the Dark Side is his orienting principle, and the Dark Side's agenda is what will come to be in his life. Luke, on the other hand has spent his life since Episode Four dedicating himself to the Light. So, the best and most necessary thing for the Light Side of the Force is what came to pass in Luke's life, because that's what he's oriented toward.  

The tricky thing here is we don't always know what we're oriented toward. For most of us, it's a completely unconscious thing. There's a general sense of what we want our lives to be, maybe we want to exercise more, or eat better, or have better relationships, but just like Kylo, the way our life is geared keeps those things from happening. So, how do we fix this? 

There are four steps. Most of us have the first step down, we know what we want our lives to look like.  We have an idea of what we want to change and where we want to end up. The second step, though, is much more difficult. In order to get where we want to go, we have to have a deep understanding of where we are now. What things have we oriented our lives around, and which of those things are preventing us from moving forward?  I recommend using the Enneagram to help you explore and give a workable language to these unconscious motivations.

Once we know where we are, and where we want to go, steps three and four come along hand in hand. Relinquish and Affirm. Once we see where we are, and have an understanding of what parts of our current orientation are standing in our way, we have to consciously remove the behaviors and beliefs that support that orientation. Of course, Nature abhors a vacuum, so once those limiting beliefs are gone, we have to bring something positive in their place. We have to make conscious effort to behave (think, feel, and act) in ways that affirm our new Orienting Principle. These steps can't be done out of order.  Like trying to plant flowers before you've removed all the weeds and Bermuda grass, it's a lot of work and a lot of wasted time. The fragile new flowers won't make it if they're forced to compete with the deep rooted and invasive weeds.

While these steps seem simple enough, the are not easy. At all. Luckily for us, though, once we start this process, the Universe catches wind and comes to help us. Sometimes removing things from our lives can be scary, even if we know they're standing in the way of the life we want. Just like Luke, we may know what we need to do, but we might not have the umph to make it happen. This is the beauty and the power of Orienting Principle, at a certain point the energetic inertia builds enough that things are accomplished even when we can't make them happen ourselves.

This year, I'm not just making resolutions. I'm taking a good hard look at what I've been oriented toward. I'm exploring how my unconscious motivations have kept me stuck in a life I don't want to be living. I'm taking conscious action to remove the things from my life that are keeping me stuck, and affirm the things that move me where I want to go.

As always, I want to hear from you, too. What intentions are you setting this year? How do you want to move forward? How are you grappling with the motivations that undermine your new goals? This journey is so much better with friends.