A New Take On New Year’s Resolutions

Written by Dr. Whitney Wall

"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am,
then I can change."  –Carl Rogers

New year – new resolutions! But, who actually follows through with the harsh rules we
impose on ourselves at the start of each year? The gyms flood in January only to be
deserted again by March. We ambitiously vow to stop doing XY & Z until we inevitably
do and are left feeling worse than we did before we decided to better ourselves with this
age-old tradition.

New year’s resolutions, like so many of our efforts to change, are built on the belief that
something is wrong with us. As one year comes to an end and a new year begins, we scan
our lives and ourselves and ask, “what’s wrong with me now?” “What about me is ugly,
embarrassing, lazy/ineffective?” With questions like these we engage in harsh selfanalysis
(the kind we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies) and are left with feelings of
shame and unworthiness. Nothing good ever comes from this space. In fact, shame
exacerbates (if not causes) the very things we want to go away – overeating, lack of
motivation, anxiety, depression, and disconnection from the people we love. Shame is the voice inside us that says “I’m not good enough.” It’s the belief that if only we were
different in some way, we would be OK.

Paradoxically, as Carl Rogers so simply captured, it is only when we release our shame
and open to ourselves to life just as we are right now that we allow ourselves to
experience creativity, connection, and love. It’s only from this accepting space that we
experience true growth and transformation.

When setting goals for the upcoming year, question if you are motivated from a place of
shame/stagnation or acceptance/growth. Are you looking to change something so that you will be ok (shame)? Do you need for your new year’s resolution to be met before you can start really living (shame). Or, do you allow yourself to live fully right now, exactly as
you are, and feel that meeting new goals might only add to your life (acceptance)?

As we collectively welcome 2017, let’s question the energy that we are inviting into our
lives with our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves. Are we feeding the negative, yet
familiar, internal dialogue that asks what’s wrong with us? Or, are we brave enough to
step into a new place of acceptance where we will be truly present in our lives and open
to thrive in the new year? For real change - chose the latter.

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