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Tell Me-How to Take the Stress Out of Resolutions
By Debbie Tudor, LPC-Supervisor
Rockwall Counseling, PA/Remote Counseling for YOU!
We now enter the coldest, darkest time of year.
When we have just finished overspending, overeating, and generally over-exhausting ourselves.
The time when we have just sent the family on their way and may still be reeling from the tart comments or out-and- out family feuds.
And what do we do? Do we rest? Relax? Clean up the mess? Congratulate ourselves on surviving?
Let’s explore some questions asked by my clients about this topic.
Can I Wait to Do This?
Absolutely. As a matter of fact, you may be wise to do so, particularly if you struggle with winter’s short days and lack of sunshine. A mental health condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder causes some people to notice an increased tendency during the winter months to oversleep and overeat, as well as feel lethargic and depressed. S.A.D. generally requires treatment by a professional. If you suffer from these symptoms, postpone the pressure of resolution setting until spring, when the days lengthen and you feel more energy. This may not be the time to attempt new endeavors!
I Set Resolutions Anyway, But I Keep Failing…
As a counselor, if I see a client repeatedly fail to reach their goals, I know that those goals are too high. This is confirmed by Pauline Gidney, a personal trainer who tells me that people tend to set weight loss goals that are unrealistic in scope and attainability and then wonder why they fail. The idea here is to make your goals SMALL (“journal 1 more time than I did last week”), CONTROLLABLE (I CAN control whether I work out; I CAN’T control whether I lose weight this week), and POSITIVE.
The Mind Ignores the Negative…
Many people understand that it is useful to write a goal down and reread it on a regular basis, called Affirmation Writing. Fewer are aware of the importance of wording that goal in a positive framework, as the subconscious does not process negatives. Therefore, the resolution worded “I will be less shy” becomes “I will be-shy.” Try framing your resolution in the positive, such as “I will smile at one new person today.” My favorite one to give clients who are trying to become healthier by weight management is “I love and accept my body.”
“Love (your neighbor as) YOURSELF…”
Finally, the attitude you take toward yourself as far as patience and forgiveness in the area of change helps determine whether you will succeed or not. A negative, punishing, severe resolution (“I will never eat carbs again”) is destined for failure, because ultimately the body will not thrive on self-hatred. If you wouldn’t call your friend “stupid” or “lazy” for not working out, why is it somehow OK to say that to the mirror? Negativity breeds giving up, and giving up is the only true “failure” in life. If this seems foreign to you, get counseling for low self esteem, depression or anxiety.
So as you set small, positive, and affirming resolutions, remember the PURPOSE of a resolution-to make your life better. Not to punish yourself. Not to focus on your perceived flaws. But to gently, patiently love yourself into a better life.