This year I’ve been seeing a lot of “What to do instead of making resolutions,” in addition to all of the usual “How to keep your resolutions.” Are we starting to give up on resolutions? Are we that frail and feeble as a species? Or is this the first time we’re acknowledging it openly?
I have to admit I almost wrote a post on “What to do instead of making resolutions,” because I really do have something to offer in that area. But when everyone else in the world took up that topic, I sheepishly set it aside, trying not to be noticed. Seems like there are a lot of alternate suggestions for self-improvement out there already.
But I have a question: Why do we give up on ourselves? Why has it become a foregone conclusion that we break resolutions and need outside advice to keep us on track? Don’t we care enough about ourselves to hold ourselves to account, or at least enlist someone we trust to hold us to our promises?
I once found myself in a depression relapse because I broke several promises to myself which included all sorts of wonderful things like playing music, doing tai chi, meditating, taking brisk walks, reading, eating healthy, and so on. All those are wonderful things! And I felt too guilty to renew my commitment to them once it was broken; if I had even the thought of putting my tai chi clothes on again I would suddenly feel like I had to go to confession before I was allowed back into the basement for my workout. So I stayed out of the basement and sulked.
It was a bullsh*t way to operate.
So I sat down and asked myself what was going on that I felt too bad to renew my commitment. And the answer came: I didn’t think I was worth it. This was the conversation I had to turn around. I thought I was worthless, so I had to find out: What would I be if I didn’t have this thought? It was very Eckhart Tolle, very Byron Katie, and it worked. I also recalled some interesting words from an old teacher when I told her I had issues with being responsible: “You don’t let yourself want anything.”
This was the kicker. Most of us have neutral-to-negative feelings about responsibility because we too easily forget that being responsible is what causes us to get the things we want. The things we want don’t just drop out of the air of their own accord; we ask for it, we create it, we produce it. Even if all we do is put our hands together and pray for it, we’re the ones reaching out.
If we don’t go for what we want, what does that say about our self-worth? We’ve taken away our right to want things like better health, stronger skills, and good habits. It’s like punishing a child for putting his nose to the toy store window! When you say “I’m gonna do X,” and then do it, you set yourself up as a person who is worthy of X. You put it in your own hands. That’s one of the great things about being human.
“It’s too hard. I’m tired today. I got up too late. It’s taking too long. I’m not feeling well.” You have to have something to override these things. And one of the most powerful things you can give yourself is that kid-in-the-toy-store wonderment of how cool it would be to have something you want, and to be able to go for it like a grown-up with a resolution.
Keep going, people. You’re worth it.