The start of a new year feels so full of promise, doesn't it? However trying or tribulating our year has been, we see January 1st looming like a beacon of hope. Or at least, I do. I always feel like it's a chance to breathe deeply and shake off whatever has dragged me down and clobbered me over the previous 12 months. It makes sense that we try to crowbar some resolutions in there...riding the coat tails of the new and shiny year in the hope that we can borrow some of that fresh energy and finally get a resolution to stick.
But honestly, I'm not a fan of the resoluting business. I have come to realise that it mostly turns into a good way to disappoint ourselves. No matter how lightheartedly you approach it, if you don't end up sticking to your resolution you have to deal with whatever version of an inner disapproving parental figure you have shaking their head sadly at you. By mid Jan it mostly looks like this in my brain:
I know I'm not alone in this. Studies have concluded that by February, as many as 80% of New Year's resolutions will have fallen by the wayside. That's a lot of tutting and eye rolling going on in our collective background.
And of course there are really good reasons why resolutions usually fail. They are the results of us deciding, with our limited conscious brains, that something about us NEEDS TO CHANGE.
Within that decision is often packed our self-judgment and fear, which we somehow imagine is a good engine to drive a series of actions that will steer our behaviour in a different direction than it's been going.
In other words, we feel bad about ourselves and we try to use that feeling to decide to act differently.
Which would be great if it worked, but it just mostly doesn't. And then we have yet another thing to feel bad about to add to the pile.
My personal collection
A far kinder, and more effective approach to take with ourselves might be to slow down and pay attention to what those motivating feelings are. To get curious about how we're really feeling, to spend a bit of time just asking ourselves what we really want. To look at the behaviours we are not happy about with compassion for a moment, instead of condemnation.
For example, if you are considering giving something up for New Years, let's do a quick experiment to see what often goes on when we launch in this direction:
First, try saying to yourself "I need to stop .............(fill in the blank). I can't believe I'm still doing this. It's so bad for me and I'm obviously useless for not being able to quit/cut down/give this up."
How do you feel when you say those words to yourself? Does it feel familiar? Does it feel like a sort of sinking sensation? Can you feel your limited human conscious brain kick in and come up with a solution, a decision, a thought about how to FIX it?
Now try saying this to yourself instead: "I need to stop.........(fill in the blank). I know it's the best thing for me. I know it's been really hard for me to give this up/change this in the past, and I understand why. It has been comforting to me when I needed comfort, it has helped me feel OK when I wouldn't have otherwise. I needed it, in lots of ways, and I'm ready to be kind to myself in other ways now."
You see how differently those two versions land inside you when you say them to yourself? The second version leaves me feeling a lot more...well...comforted. It doesn't prompt the same knee jerk desire to jump into action (a good thing when that action is usually not effective) and it allows me some space to be human and to consider things calmly. It's a stance that might actually allow me to make real change inside myself because I can choose to act from self care, not self condemnation.
The basic vibe we're going for...talk to yourself like you're the kind lady talking to the puppy who has just come out of a cage. You're also the puppy. And the cage. And the photographer. Aaaaagh. Just focus on the puppy.
One of those acts of self care might be to recognise that your limited conscious brain has not been that successful in the past with getting resolutions to stick. That when you have decided to act based on self condemnation, your willpower alone hasn't been enough for you to reach the finish line, because you're dealing with habits that are in your subconscious brain. Habits of thought and action that are running the show despite what you 'decide' and will continue running the show as soon as your resolve falters.
Getting assistance with that part of you that is beyond your conscious mind, untouchable by the part of you that has 'decided' to change is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself. Because there is only so much you can shift without the help of your subconscious mind.
And this is where hypnotherapy can be one of your most powerful self-care tools. It's an effective way to get ALL of you on board with the coming changes. To reach the part of you that can shift habits without effort so that you don't feel like you are pushing against a huge obstacle that just won't move. Or that moves a bit and then slides right back.
Choosing a healthier year doesn't have to look like making and breaking promises to yourself. It can look like simply deciding to take small and simple actions that will SUPPORT a healthier and happier version of you, one step at a time.
If you would like to change some habits this new year, begin by giving yourself the practical tools that will make it easier for you to achieve these huge changes. Set yourself up for success and not failure so you are still practising self kindness as you do it.
Listen to some of the powerful hynpotherapy sessions here at Clear Minds that are specially designed to enlist your subconscious mind in the process of change and you may find, as so many have done, that the change happens so much more effortlessly than you expected.
Why not begin 2023 on a new note...one of SELF KINDNESS!
- Speak gently to yourself
- Recognise how habits have been a comfort when you needed them
- Decide without self-judgment which ones you'd like to change
- Get practical help in changing your subconscious mind so you're set up for success
- Continue to speak kindly to yourself no matter what (be the lady with the puppy)
Wishing you a peaceful inner landscape free of disapproving tutting for the new year and beyond!