Whenever this time of year rolls around and people are in “change mode,” it can feel confusing and unclear where to start. Many people have the same New Year’s Resolutions each year and feel disappointed in themselves that yet again, they feel back to square one in not making the changes they had hoped for. An action plan is good, but if you don’t examine the overarching message system in your head, you may find yourself continuing to be mystified by your lack of success.
We live in a culture that focuses on doing, not being, and New Years Resolutions tend to be about what you’re going to do. So perhaps this year you can include some aspirations of what you’re going to be.
Here are some things to consider:
1. Be in the Now
Each day when you wake up, focus on the beginnings in your life, not the endings. Too often we burn energy on the past, which can lead to a case of the “coulda/shoulda/wouldas” and make you feel stuck in regret, self-pity, anger, resentment, sadness, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, the past is an important teacher in your life and it’s vital to reflect on how things turned out. But when you’re always grieving for what ended, you’re not able to present for what is beginning. At same time, if something is troubling for you, telling yourself to “just get over it” can be unfair and denying yourself permission to feel your feelings. It’s all about balance.
2. Be in the Body You Have Today
Live in the body you have at this moment and treat it with respect and goodness. Stop waiting for a different body in order for life to start. If you want your body to look different, work on accepting and loving it where it’s at and change will come more easily, I promise.
Your exercise goals don’t need to be lofty, they just need to be reachable and reasonable. Buy the size that fits, not the one you can only wear with a girdle– how can life be fun if you can barely breathe? Count your blessings, not calories, and look at your food intake as fuel to keep a wondrous system operating, not a punishing act.
MORE: How I Learned to Love My Body
3. Be Enough, Single or Not
In movies and books, Prince Charming isn’t part of the happy ending, he is the happy ending who makes the woman feel like she is finally “enough”. Unfortunately, many women walk around with the hope and expectation that a romantic partner will provide them with that feeling of being adequate. One of my favorite movie lines is from “Cool Runnings”–a movie about a Jamaican bobsled team competing in the Olympics–where the coach says to one of the team members: “A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.”
A relationship can be a wonderful thing, but if you’re depending on a man to make you feel like you’re enough, you will be consistently disappointed with the aching void you continue to feel—no matter how great a partner and complimentary he may be.
MORE: What No One Tells You About Good Relationships
4. Be Your Own Best Friend
Many women have an inner dialogue that can be painfully demeaning. The place they go inside—especially when they make a mistake—can be harsh and mean. That inner bully and the hold it can have on you is incredibly paralyzing and robs you of the ability to have a relationship with yourself that is kind and nurturing.
Next time you find you’re beating yourself up, take a pause and ask yourself what you’d say to your best friend who was feeling the way you are. You have an innate ability to nurture yourself and if you practice interacting with yourself from a place of love and kindness, not only will the “noise” subside, but you can get more comfortable in your own skin.
5. Be In Touch With Your Gut
Sometimes the answer to an issue is hanging out in your gut but you don’t want to listen to it because it’s not the answer your head wants. Instead of sitting with that uncomfortable dissonance and having the patience to sort it out, you turn to your “committee”–made up of peers, co-workers, random elevator lady–to hear what they think and get some insight because you have “no idea what to do.”
But here’s the thing. Crowd-sourcing is pretty effective when you’re looking to buy a new camera or deciding which hotel to stay at, but when it comes to the big decisions in your life you need to also be willing to listen to your gut. Sometimes it’s not clear, other times it’s a nagging feeling that you can’t seem to shrug off no matter how much googling you and advice-shopping you do. But don’t discount your intuition; give yourself the quiet space to tap into the gentle voice inside that has a sense of what may be the next right step for you. You may be surprised that you aren’t aren’t as clueless as you thought.
MORE: How to Listen to Your Gut
Happy New Year!
Rachel Hercman, LCSW is an individual/couple psychotherapist, writer, and lecturer based in New York City. She specializes in relationship and sex issues, anxiety, depression, and trauma.