New Years Excuses
It's that time of the year, again. New Year, New Me. By definition, a resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. A rigid boundary you set to become a better version of yourself. The intentions are good, the hopes are high, the pantry is stocked with healthy food, and you decide to pay homage to the gym with a visit in lieu of just your monthly donation to the cause.
But what happens when we have a bad day? A bad week? What if we fall off and never meet a single resolution we set out for? The shame of not completing the resolution can be strong enough for us to be dishonest and judgmental with ourselves. Coming up with excuses to ward off these feelings of failure, incompetence, or imperfection can be exhausting enough to not want to start at all. We avoid what makes us feel anxious and sometimes we get in our own way of personal growth.
Relief from this type of anxiety may be found in embracing the limitations that make us human. Self-compassion is an acceptance of our human form, including the unwanted parts, allowing love and kindness to fuel motivation, not fear. If we don't learn how to be more compassionate with ourselves we may become so focused on the end result that we lose sight of the process, the journey, and the other important facets of our lives that help create us.
Self-compassion sounds great, right? But where does it come from and how can I get some?
Let's first look at the language we are using to speak to and coach ourselves. A New Year's Resolution allows no room for error; it does not account for the fact that we are only human and are programmed to make mistakes. Perhaps the term 'goal' is a little more gentle and flexible. Goals give us direction, purpose, and help us work toward things. The observation of our efforts, achievements, progress, and inevitable set-backs without judgment is referred to as mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us appreciate and accept the journey. Some goals take a lifetime to achieve. Rome was built by laying one brick at a time.
So this year, instead of using excuses to avoid negative feelings, I encourage you to find excuses in search of positive feelings of accomplishment and self-compassion. Use the New Year to get back on track with your goals. Lay one brick. Reorganize that closet, eat a healthy meal, sign up for that class, run those first ten steps of what may become thousands, and make that therapy appointment like you've been meaning. Cheers to 2020!