Forgotten your New Year's Resolution already? Has your resolve around a goal that seemed really great three weeks ago been stomped out by the marching rhythm of day-to-day life? Don't throw it all away yet. Let's take a few minutes right now, and regroup. Ready?
In general, resolutions are made to make changes to some aspect of how we live. We have the best intentions. Our resolutions make good sense. We really should lose weight/get organized/live by a budget/exercise/write for our blog weekly (!!)/insert-your-resolution-here. So, what happens? Why don't we do what we really want to do?
1. We probably haven't given a second thought to why we weren't already doing that thing we've resolved to do. Maybe we haven't already lost weight because, well, we really like to eat. We have a complicated relationship with food and maybe we haven't really spent much time considering everything that food is doing for us. We make our resolution when we notice what it's doing to us. Same thing with our budget, or really any other resolution: What is the behavior we have been doing, doing for us? (If you can, take a few minutes and really explore the answer to this question.) We have to start here because, if we try to blow past it, forget it. We'll always come back to this lover that hurts us so bad, but feels so good.
2. We need something else that works for us instead of (insert resolution behavior here). If we want to stay within our budget this year, and, because we did step one above, we know that we spend money when we get stressed and/or feel insecure, then we had better find a way to handle those feelings when they come up. And it better be a way that works, or, what will we do? You guessed it. Shop.
3. We now begin to see that focusing on the outcome as a resolution, might not be the best way to go about it. What does that mean? Let's say you're a therapist with a blog. And, your resolution was to write weekly. And, when you do step one, you realize that by focusing on other important tasks that do not involve risk and vulnerability, you can avoid this discomfort, but you are also avoiding writing. So, in step two you see that you better acknowledge this discomfort and be kind to it. This magically makes the fear known and a little less big and unruly. Perhaps a better resolution is to attend lovingly to fear (the habit), rather than write weekly blog (the outcome).
4. Perfectionism is the death of any resolution. Perfectionism, or all-or-nothing thinking, is just a creative thing that our mind does to try to cope with fear of unworthiness from failure. All we have to do perfectly is to keep coming back to our intention be kind and compassionate to our need. No matter what we did or did not do yesterday, we can always come back to our intention today and continue. This is how lasting change happens.
There you have it! Your Resolution Reboot. If you are slipping and sliding, keep coming back to: what is my old behavior doing for me? What do my feelings need? How can I give my feelings what they need? Am I in perfectionism?
Let's get back on that horse. You've got this.
Karen J. Helfrich, LCSW-C
As a therapist, mother, daughter, partner, and seeker, I am always on the journey toward a more peaceful, authentic life. I hope to share knowledge, insights, and the ongoing unknowns I find along the path...