We've said goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018. Now commences that time of year when everyone is working to improve their 2018 selves - and I'll continue to write 2017 on things for at least the next month.
Since becoming a therapist, I've been feeling more and more disturbed by resolution culture. Resolutions generally seem to feed off a very destructive core belief that I think many of us carry - that we are not enough.
All the fitness tips and inspirational stories tend to fuel jealousy over the success of others and a feeling of dissatisfaction with our own bodies. The 'eat healthier,' 'get outside more' 'stay fit and healthy' 'spend more, save less' are all perfectly reasonable goals to make. The downside is that, for many of us, we make them as a way to fill that 'not enough' space. They are predicated on the voice of our inner critics.
So, it's not the resolution or the goal that is the problem, but the intention and motivation we put behind it. I always think that when you see someone running, you can't tell from the outside if they're doing it as a form of self-care or self-punishment. I have many friends that run regularly as a form of self-care, it functions as a way to curb anxiety and depression and supports their mental health as much as their physical health. I've also known many people who ran as a way to maintain the "calories in/calories out" balance and hated every minute of it.
How can we reframe our resolutions away from this realm of criticism and into a healthier, more supportive space? I like to start with the idea of changing the way we talk about them as the first step.
Resolutions often tend to be framed in the negative - what we want to lose or give up. What if instead we focused on what we hoped to gain? What we want to cultivate? What we want to feel our body be able to do that it couldn't before?
Get curious about the motivation behind the resolution - follow the thread and be on the hunt for self-judgement. Why do you want to improve that part of your life? Is the motivation in any way related to your inner critic?
By shifting to this place of adding to our life, we can better notice and steer clear of the 'not enough' judgments. It's OK if the critical judgments are there! The critic is bound to be there. The trick is to noticing how it is acting on your goals and not letting it take over. If you find judgments and self-criticism come up strongly - maybe the resolution to make is one of greater kindness toward yourself around that area.
Let the kindness come first and then seek changes from a place of greater self-acceptance.
I wish you a happy, healthy 2018 full of comfort in yourself.