Ah the old subject of New Year resolutions has reared its head once more. Every January we contemplate whether to make them - again - despite the fact that for most of us we fail to achieve what we set out to do.
The word resolution comes from the Latin resolutio(n-), from resolvere meaning to loosen or release. Somewhere along the line however, New Year resolutions became a tradition that found us promising to change an undesired trait or behaviour, accomplish a personal goal or improve our life. Not quite loosening or releasing is it?
Making resolutions means changing something your life in some way. Why? What are you hoping to achieve? What is it that you want to feel? What do you think will happen if you do change that pattern or behaviour? What are you currently doing, that if you stopped, would make you feel/have…..(fill in the blank)?
These are life changing questions, and to be honest are likely to take more energy than you have in your tank at the beginning of a new year! Transformation takes patience, time, exploration, insight, kindness, patience, hard work and patience.
If we look at the word releasing - meaning to let go, set free, liberate - this give us a far greater insight into what has to happen to achieve how we want to feel, because ultimately that is what New Year resolutions are all about. FEELING: better, something, healthier, happier, more settled, more secure…
Throughout or lives we have been told that feelings are useless, weak, dramatic. As a consequence, we may repress our feelings to the point that they're not there when we need them or worse still, they become so overwhelming that they either explode out of us or change us into someone we are not. We create behavioural patterns to mask our feels which end up being the very things we resolve to stop doing at New Year.
We have become too reliant on our minds to get us through life and a more holistic approach - that includes our heart and soul - will help us make better choices. We were designed to unite body, mind and soul and when all three aspects are not in synch, we are out of balance and just don't “feel right”.
Before you decide this is the year to lose 10 lbs, stop swearing, start a new hobby, get more sleep, ask yourself what is it that you want to feel. It can be overwhelming to explore our feels, so start small. Ask yourself if you feel good, bad or neutral.
It can be difficult to put words to your feelings so start to build a list of feeling words to help build your emotional vocabulary. The other helpful things you can do are unplug from technology, listen to your body and talk.
In the beginning, feeling your feelings may not be comfortable, because you'll have to accept the bad with the good. But the more you can sit with them, the more control you'll have over them and the less they'll control you.
So instead of resolving to be better this year, set yourself free from failed promises and spend a little me time exploring your feelings. When you understand your feelings, you are able to stay calm, express yourself more clearly, you have more understand and empathy, and best of all you won’t create a whole load of behavioural patterns that you have to get rid of every new year!
This blog has been adapted from a chapter in a new book I am writing.