WOW | Life Inspiration
NEW YEAR’S Resolutions 2016
A new year is here. It seems only yesterday that it was the beginning of 2015. The past year feels as though it flew by in the blink of an eye. The past year, at the same time, feels so full, of so much. Of too much, perhaps.
With a new year comes the customary talk of resolutions. We make plans for ourselves, our lives, and/or our families. We aim to do more, to do better, to be better and pursue dreams or aspirations that inspire us. Losing weight, getting fit, quitting smoking, getting a promotion, slowing down, being more of this or less of that…the lists can be endless.
Aspirations invite us to grow and change. They give direction and vector to our life’s course. But more often that not, we get so fixated on what we want to achieve or acquire that we forget to reflect upon- and let go of what no longer serves us. In order to plant new seeds and nurture their growth, we must prepare the soil, rid it of rocks and weeds. In the same way, in order to allow our new resolutions take root, we must start by clearing our hearts and minds of that which no longer supports our wellbeing.
Easier said than done. How many of us have made the same resolution each year? Many. A whole bunch. The majority of us do.
We go into a new year full of good intentions, hope and zest. All ready to move forward, we tell ourselves we are ready to let go of a bad habit, a negative character trait, or toxic tendency. Each year we promise ourselves we will move away from them and embrace a new way of operating.
But as most of us will experience, letting go of a bad habit is not as easy as it seems. Much of the work I do as a counselor is assisting people to identify the behaviors that are holding them away from what they want–peace, joy, love, success–and to release them. This process takes:
- (i) Identifying what we are doing: I am depressed/lazy/hopeless/confused/ anxious/angry/addicted etc…
- (ii) Taking responsibility: My feelings, my behaviors are mine. Others act in certain ways, certain events happen, that trigger me. My reactions are my responsibility. I am ready to believe I have choice in the way I react to life and to others.
- (iii) Letting go: This behavior does not support my wellbeing. I am ready to release it.
- (iv) Replacing them with another, more constructive behavior: I choose a positive affirmation for myself that I repeat regularly; or, before engaging in the same thought process or behavior, I pause for a moment and take 5 deep breaths; or, before I engage in a bad habit (e.g. reaching for a cigarette when I want to stop smoking) I call a close friend who is supporting my resolution.
Pretty straightforward, right? Absolutely. But, like most things in life, the theory is much easier than the practice. If it were not so, we would all be moving along smoothly through our challenges. What I have noticed in myself and others over time is our tendency to become so attached to our ways of being, our manner of doing things, that we embrace them as part of our identity. How many times have you heard someone (or yourself) say : “ That’s just how I am”, “I always get sick/fired/used”, “ I am just an angry person. Deal with it.”, “ Don’t try to change me”. There is no doubt that we are who we are. But we are also capable of-, and called upon to- change and grow. It takes awareness, courage and willpower to do so.
So, I would first ask you the following, as you think about new resolutions: What is it that you are ready to surrender to the past? What are you willing to let go of? Pain, resentment, and old love story, loss, disappointment?
Write it down. Give it a name. Call it what it is. Thank it for being such a steady companion, and send it on its way. Clear the fertile grounds of your heart and mind, and then, with great love, with deep faith, plant your resolutions and visions for yourself. Nurture them with attention, and vigilant care. And know that with dedication, positive focus and belief, they will sprout. One at a time. One at a time.
Here is to a blessed and beautiful year!