New Year – Old Resolutions

I was privileged to be invited on to local radio to talk about New Year’s Resolutions. To listen to that interview click here

I wrote a year ago (see here) about these and felt it was worth revisiting simply because I talked about issues that I have not covered before.

Here are a few things I have learned about resolutions

Shame

Now there’s a word to bring the energy in a conversation down a level or two.

My reason for bringing it up is that especially at New Year, but not exclusively, we commit to make changes from an emotional position of shame.

 

Wikipedia’s definition is

“A  New Year’s resolution is a tradition in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.”  

In other words I don’t like myself so I will try to change myself.

We may be ashamed of our excesses, our weight, our alcohol consumption or our relationships (or lack of). The trouble with shame is that evolution gave it to us to manage our behaviour from a negative point of view. It is the stick in our “carrot & stick” relationship with ourselves.

As we evolve further and learn more about our human spirit we realise that to manage ourselves from a negative, punishing viewpoint continually is a way to make ourselves really unhappy and, importantly for this subject, prone to not following through. Negative motivators only go so far. We need positive drivers to push us all the way.

Try taking the shame based resolution such as “I will lose weight” and framing it more positively and perhaps more holistically. For example this could become “ I wish to develop a healthier body image.” This statement opens us up to thinking abou more than just losing weight and offers us a healthier relationship with ourselves.

 

What is the deeper meaning behind the resolution

To put that another way. If you achieve the resolution in its entirety what do you want it to say about you to the world?

Using the weight loss resolution as an example those that wish to lose weight, when they think a little deeper and allow themselves to consider their vulnerability, may be able to acknowledge that they want to be seen to be attractive, likeable and lovable.

Just losing weight may do that for you but it may not. Put simply, if you don’t like yourself enough, losing weight in order to get others to affirm your likeability is dangerous and can be very painful. How far would you go to achieve that one? Some sufferers eating disorders are rooted in this issue.

 

Permission To Fail

I wrote another blog last year about giving yourself permission to fail (click here to read) . Failing at something does not make me a failure. It simply means I failed and I can also start again.

Many years ago I smoked cigarettes and felt I “should” (self shame) give up. I would commit, try and then give in and have a cigarette. My all or nothing mentality at that time meant that I had failed and I went back to smoking a packet a day.

The day I gave up successfully is the day I gave myself permission to fail and start again.

 

Write your resolutions down and read them back regularly.

You do not have to share them with anyone, although a commitment made to someone else is often more likely to be followed through. Research shows that by writing goals down we make a deeper commitment to ourselves and are more likely to follow through.

Before I went on radio I went to my Twitter community and asked the what their healthy resolutions would be.

Two contributions came back that stood out as coming from a forward looking, emotionally healthy viewpoint. They came from @njreadwriter  & @Tzelismyndzen

 

@njreadwriter said “Don’t normally bother but this year I feel I will attempt the following:
1. Try to be less bothered what other people think of my actions (I’m always nice/kind so why should it bother me?)
2. Try to not overthink things
3. Do something nice for someone else every day if I can”

 

@Tzelismyndzen said “My emotional health resolution is to do what it takes to live in the present moment. That means being prudent of where I place my energy..people places and activities.

 

In the spirit of sharing I will share my own resolutions for this year. These are my top 3 –

  1. Remind myself daily that I am worthwhile and therefore have nothing to prove to myself or others.
  2. To compare myself to others less.
  3. To hold myself accountable for my judgements of others. They say more about me than they do about those I judge. (see my blog last year on that one)

If this helps anyone else out there frame their resolutions and follow through I will be delighted.

Otherwise, the very act of writing about them and talking about them has helped me with my own.

 

Have a great year.

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