The new year. We bring it in with whistles and blowers, with streamers and confetti. We dress up in our gowns and our suits and our sparkles and bow ties. We expect better. We raise our hopes to the disco ball in the sky. We count, down. We kiss. And then we do something terrible. Something despicably, awfully, terrible.
We resolve. We say it out loud. We write it on a piece of paper. All of the “I am going to’s”.
- I am going to lose ten pounds, twenty pounds, ALL the pounds.
- I am going to save my money.
- I am going to volunteer for Greenpeace.
- Cook more, clean more, work more, overcome obstacles.
We RESOLVE, declare, share, announce, and make official our intention, as if what was standing in the way of the illustrious body, career, bank account, role model parenting, or the super human charitableness we have yet to accomplish, is simply saying it out loud. And as if saying it out loud, often to other actual people, will jump us from intention to realization, poof.
Then what plays in our minds is a short montage of mini-wins and successes, as we see ourselves doing all the things that we cross our fingers and grit our teeth will sum total the big results. *Cue camera to image of lifting weights to Eye of Tiger theme song
But behind the sexy allure of the resolution in it’s sequinned gown with the slit up the thigh, dishing out glimmering promises of an easier, cleaner, more manageable reality, is resolve. And resolve is a fighting word. It pits us against a force that is against – us.
Resolve is fear based. Desperate.
Resolve judges. It says that I should be able to, by applying more focus, more effort, more determination.
It implies that we have fallen short because we have not applied sufficient determination.
Resolve, does not actually resolve anything.
And what about that poor tired Mom who has already driven and picked up Susie from Girl Guides, microwaved some broccoli, swept the floor three times, washed up Billy’s vomit, helped Janie with her map colouring, and is now, at eleven at night, confronted with Netflix, decluttering the basement, or push ups?
What about hungry you that had such a long gruelling day and is just needing to sit down with the chocolate something something and bliss out for a few?
What about the ‘tired from working all those damn hours to get the big picture things’ you who looks at the mess and melts into Eyore, “I’ll never have a nice house” before falling in a heap into bed?
Or what about the poor guy who is not working hard at all, who keeps procrastinating all that he imagines he wants to do while wasting away on the sofa day after day.
Is a prod in the ass going to fix that pattern for him?
Is it ever helpful to say “yo, exhausted or scared person, get your butt in gear”?
How does whooping a tired (or tired of being scared) ass result in productivity? OR the joyful, peaceful happy with yourself, beautiful feeling that you associate with getting your shit done, and your obstacles overcome?
In my experience, the things that we want to make resolutions about, tend not to be areas where we lack determination, but rather complex areas of struggle. And FEAR, the governing force behind the resolution, is a very short term motivator, with devastating consequences over the long haul. It enervates. It strains. It breaks down bodies, minds, organizations. When we use it on ourselves we simply tend to generate more fear. We exhaust ourselves much more quickly. We certainly don’t resolve our struggle.
If you could listen in on the inner dialogue of a “procrastinator” for that half hour before he collapses on the couch, you’d want to crawl into bed too with your teddy bear and all the tv and snacks. Most of what we see as laziness is truly fear. And you can’t scare yourself out of fear. But you can make things worse. You can scare yourself into feeling worse.
I am suggesting that we don’t. That instead we stop to look at why we are struggling with our weight, money, goodness, parental diligence, and whatever else is on our list. Show some compassion to our struggling selves.
What if instead of sounding the battle cry, we asked ourselves what was needed, emotionally? Worked with ourselves, provided encouragement. What if we forgave ourselves for falling prey to weight gain, financial strain, clutter in the house, in the first place, and stopped taking it all personally and understood it instead, as areas in which we need support?
What is the end game of all the resolution making anyhow? Well typically we make resolutions because we want to feel better. We want to fit into our skinny jeans because it will make us feel good; pretty, desirable, healthy. We want money in the bank so we feel good; safety, freedom, fun.
Well, I’m gonna break it to you. It’s a tricky little system that is going on in the resolution making department. What we think needs fixing, aka, some great effort at overcoming, in order to get the feeling better part, is often not what needs fixing at all. And add to that our cruel headmistress, society, who provides a constant barrage of professional advice on what we should be doing. The prospect of weeding through 1000 conflicting opinions on how to solve your problem alone is terrifying and exhausting.
This is not to say we all need to be all hippy-happy inside, tra la la, and rise above the mundane concerns of our bodies or bank accounts. Rather, I suggest that when we look at things through fear coloured glasses, we don’t see straight. For example, I don’t even want to look like body builder. But when I feel badly about myself, fear rushes in and calls for extreme action, fight, resolve. Which doesn’t actually solve the problem, and generally deepens the feel shitty and powerless cycle. But at that point I am looking for the fix. I am in the ring with my emotional distress and I can only see my opponent.
I have a client who when she first came to me was eating 3 bags of cookies in a sitting, then on the treadmill until 3am to work it off. Go ahead and laugh with her, but not at her, ‘cause damn she was tired. Turns out her poor little inner child was stuffing snacks at warp speed before boot camp inner Mom could send her off without supper, and when she started being nice to herself, the binge/purge impulses dropped by 80 percent.
Sometimes you are already doing enough but you can’t see straight. Sometimes you need to fix something that is hurting you, rather than to take on a new fitness program, or double your to do list. Sometimes you need the new program, but without the pressure, and with a lot of encouragement. This is what I do with my clients, many of you know. We solve the problem at the root, rather that upping our fight and flight response, which tends to grow it.
So this New Year’s Day, when you feel tempted to pick up the pen and take yourself to task for all those things that already feel hard and hurt, instead try replacing your resolutions with “areas to help myself with” or “areas needing loving support and tenderness”. Make an intention to lovingly help yourself, or seek help with those struggles that have caused you enough pain already. Because you do deserve to feel better in 2019. Unlike the resolution, you can’t fail to live up to love. And there is literally no shame in trying.
Blessings to you, and Happy New Year!
— Love Erin
P.S. Thank you so much for reading! I will do my best to reply to all of your replies personally, just be patient with me as it may take some time. You can find out more of what I have going on at my website.
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