Those Self-Defeating New Year’s Resolutions
Recently I was writing a newsletter discussing why I do not believe in making a New Year resolution. Ever since then, I have kept pondering about this and thus decided to share some musings with you that do provide “food for thought’. I am careful to point out that this article is not intended as a criticism. Instead I consider the below more an observation from professional and personal experience, and I hope that it will shed some light on why just so many resolutions are long forgotten by the time the daffodils pop up in the Spring.
‘Bad’ habits are hard to break!
And it is these that keep us stuck in behavior patterns from the old year. We might find comfort, stress reduction or security in daily habits we keep. There are good habits, and habits that do not serve our wellness and hopes for changes for the better. Trust me, a tub of ice cream will always be more appealing than a bowl with broccoli when I am having a stressful day or moment. There is a reason why certain foods, alcohol, cigarettes and drugs are used in addictive behaviors. And yet so often one hears the following for a New Year’s resolution:
- I am going to lose weight.
- I am going to stop smoking.
- I am not going to have a drink every night, now only on weekends.
- I am going to start exercising this year.
“Happy New Year!”
Ever year when one sees the ball drop in Time Square, one can feel the excitement and renewed hope for a better year ahead. “This year will be different!’ is a major mantra; a future filled with promise, hope and new opportunities. Bring on the magic wand that makes everything in our lives better the way we wish it to be! It is not surprising the diet books, gym memberships and weight-loss programs tend to have bumper sales in January. Anything that can offer a quick fix to a problem that we dealt with in the old year will be popular. We want a re-start, or as politicians call it, ‘a reset button.’
But – does that work?
In the short-term yes. In the long-term, mostly no. A New Year resolution that is based on hope and desire from our conscious mind does not have a good chance to succeed in the long term if we do not address self – limiting beliefs in our subconscious. We cannot change our life and behavior just because we clink our champagne glasses at midnight of the old year, or flip the first page of our brand new 2018 calendar. A new day, in a new year, will not bring us closer to our goals and dreams.
Our non-self serving habits, sabotaging actions and behavior are governed by the subconscious mind. As much as we can try to change what we do, change can only occur if we address limiting self-beliefs that keep us stuck with feelings of low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence, or an ongoing need to please or be perfect. These get ingrained in our childhood and self-limiting belief patterns are carried through into adult life where they can result in addictions of any kind, abuse against others, and self-destructive behavior. Healing at these deep layers must occur, if change is to occur.
New Year resolutions are made from our conscious mind. We wish to bring about change from our heart and self will. Yet the subconscious mind (and self-limiting belief patterns) run the show by governing 95% of our behavior and actions. Our subconscious mind will create sabotage and unwanted behavior that will result in not getting desired results, shame, guilt, saying “I knew I would fail again’, remorse and emotional pain All this emotional baggage tends to get swept under the rug in the depths of our being while we deflect on the outside and seem to ‘move on’. Until the next New Year’s Eve. Here is an example:
- A binge drinker who says ‘it will be different’ in the New Year. Before the first week is over they might have gone on another drinking binge. This is followed the next day by remorse, shame, guilt and a sense of failure. The year has changed. The subconscious monkey-mind that takes over during a binge session has not changed. (Sadly, I am not making this up.)
Yes, we desire to recreate ourselves, at least in our mind. There are reasons why we had not succeeded in taking action before, or sticking to a better diet plan, or were able to give up cigarettes. It is simplistic to think that just because we are entering a new year, we can clear the slate and start over. We cannot. Sure, anyone can stick to something for 30 days. This is why certain diets or cleanses choose this time frame. It takes time to relearn.
So what to do?
Rather than waiting for a New Year to occur, sit down and take stock of where you feel stuck. Becoming mindful of a roadblock in your personal or professional life is the first step. Do consider the following:
- Where do you feel stuck in your life?
- How long have you felt this way?
- What do you think you need to do to become unstuck?
- Are financials the biggest concern?
- Is there a person (s) who can help you with this?
- Is there a person (or persons) who keeps you stuck?
- If you answered yes, how do they benefit by you staying stuck?
- What is the worst that can happen if you make changes?
- And then, what would happen?
- What do you have to give up or sacrifice to make this change?
Here are a few tougher questions:
- How do you benefit by being stuck? This is a tough question, but be brutally honest with yourself with this question.
- What can you avoid, e.g. putting yourself out there and risking failure or rejection or abuse or financial hardship or?
- By staying stuck, what accountability and / or responsibility can you avoid?
- Who can you continue to blame?
- What is your role in all of this? In every conflict situation, we play a part in it too (this can be difficult to see or accept).
There are many more questions. A lot of our daily habits fulfill an emotional or psychological need. Once one recognizes the connection, it opens another layer of self-growth. I do find that it is helpful to work with a professional life coach or Spiritual guidance counselor as one navigates the filed of the subconscious mind. It can be a minefield once one opens up childhood experiences that have left a painful impression.
Modalities that are also helpful in facilitating change include meditation, hypnosis, Reiki and other healing modalities. Wounds in our psyche, emotional and spiritual body can prevent from us reaching our full potential. There is no perfect life; it is a rollercoaster, yet in the present time, the Trump era, the adult-child is gaining a spotlight on the political stage.
So, take the pressure off in case you made some resolutions a few days ago. Instead, reassess the situation and then take it one small step at a time for long-lasting results anchored in empowerment and self-realization. Live your life on your terms, not those of faulty self-beliefs and others expectations.
Happy New Year!
NY Integrated Health
FND-P, Lyme disease expert, Holistic Lifestyle Coach, published author