A new take on New Year’s Resolutions

If I had a fireplace, my collection of self help books could heat my home for a year! How to get organized, how to lose weight, how to swim with the sharks, how to dress like a fox, how to eat fat free, carb free, practically food free!

But here’s the thing. They all told me “how to do it.” But not one of them told me how to GET myself to do it. So I’d try for a while, and then fall back into old, familiar patterns, including the most deeply entrenched one,  “What’s wrong with me?” Especially when I read on Facebook how my friend Sally had just finished her 33 day cleansing fast and has bought an entire new wardrobe four sizes smaller! (forgive the slight exaggeration!)

So what’s the alternative? I’ve explored this question for many years as I recovered from my experiences as the oldest daughter in an alcoholic family. I’ve learned that when we try to build new skills or habits without a deeply authentic, personal foundation, they usually don’t “stay up” for long. And that’s why we get stuck, and feel like failures, sometimes over and over.

How do we get that deeply authentic, personal foundation? One way that’s been working for me is to get to what I call the the “positive why” of anything I’m trying to accomplish. Here’s an example: For years, I’ve been battling my weight. I’ve lost up to 50 pounds at least 20 times, only to gain it all back and more. I’ve started diet programs and exercise programs that last for a while, and then I drop them, only to feel discouraged.

Why was I doing that? Because I judged myself as “unattractive” and “unhealthy.” But these were “negative why’s,” or judgements against myself, and none of them was strong enough to balance the entrenched habits since my early childhood of using food for comfort, and feeling like a dork when it came to exercise.

Then in the past few years, as I’ve moved way past the half-century mark, I’ve begun to feel some deeper desires: I want to remain strong and flexible till I die. I want to be able to play with my great grandbabies. I  want to be able to dance till the wee hours. I want to be able to enjoy a fully intimate life with my partner. These are “positive why’s” and they are much more powerful motivators than any negative judgements I’ve held against myself. So, slowly, I’m changing the way I eat, and I’ve actually found an exercise program that I really enjoy! And while I’m working out, I say to myself, over and over, I love you dear body, and I’m so happy that we are getting better!

So here’s my suggestion for your New Year’s Resolutions. Before you commit yourself to any specific outcome, take some personal, quiet time and reflect on questions such as:

What judgements am I passing on myself? Are there any “positive why’s” behind these judgements?
What do I really care about?
What is most important to me?
What brings me great joy, especially that I’m not yet experiencing?
What am I currently doing that is draining me?
How can I feed my deepest self more fully?
and my all-time favorite, which comes from many Wisdom Teachers over the ages, What would I do if I weren’t afraid?

Blessings and many moments of joy to you and yours this holiday season and in 2012!

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