When I think of this time of year, inevitably I think about intention setting or resolution making. As the Western world moves into a new calendar year, most people are making New Year’s resolutions or intentions. I looked up the definitions for resolution and intention. Both words had two definitions:
- A thing intended; an aim or plan.
- The healing process of a wound.
- A firm decision to do or not to do something.
- The action of solving a problem, dispute or contentious matter.
I think that a lot of our society brings the attitude of the second definition of resolution; that in the New Year, there is some problem to solve, dispute to end or contention to deal with. To me, there isn’t that big of an issue to have this attitude, unless you are viewing your self as the problem.
When we view ourselves as a problem, it is much more difficult to make sustainable changes and experience happiness.
I believe this is why we hear so much about New Year’s resolutions losing steam by the end of January or February. It takes a lot more energy to think of ourselves as problems, than to love ourselves and then from this place, make movement toward change.
I really want you to take this in…..it is much more difficult to make sustainable changes, when we think of ourselves as a problem. In my experience assisting others in healing; people don’t understand this. I have seen many, many clients try to force their minds, bodies, and emotions to do something or be a certain way.
Here’s an example of treating oneself as a problem to fix. Let’s say you want to be more productive in the New Year. So, every time you find yourself lounging around the house, you talk to yourself like this, “ Hey lazy ass! Get up and do something! You will never reach your goals like this. You will never get what you want if you continue to laze around.” This is an example of force by berating the self. This can help with short term motivation, but it can also have other side effects, including self-loathing, impaired self-esteem, and possibly anxiety, to mention a few. This is a small example of how we chop ourselves down in an effort to reach a goal, but don’t realize we are really hurting ourselves, instead of helping.
Let’s look at the same scenario from the lens of the second definition of intention, the healing of a wound. Again, you are wanting to be more productive in the New Year; you’ve found yourself lounging around the house. Your process could look something like this, “ Hmmmm……..I just noticed I am lounging around. What’s going on that I’m wanting to sit here, instead of complete my tasks for the day? Am I tired? Am I hungry? What am I feeling? What would help me complete the rest of my tasks for today? Hmmmmmm……ok, I think I need a snack and some tea and some good music to listen to. Pause, feel into my body. Yes. That is what I need. Yay! I think I can get my to do list done today. Good job Erin.”
No force needed. No need to berate and batter myself. My mind and body were able to come through with the behavior I wanted when I was able to first notice what was happening, next, ask what my body needed and then, come up with ideas to help me get there. If you think about it, this is how we might help a friend, loved one or even a child problem solve.
I love Kristin Neff’s, the Co-Founder of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, quote about making changes to ourselves;
“You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are.”
This definition is huge for me. It’s such a core way to interact with self-love and compassion; it just gets to the heart of things. I notice that a lot of people often try to “fix” things from superficial layers and then wonder why it’s not changing. Often, there are deeper layers and ways of loving and interacting with ourselves that need attention and care. We all need way more quiet, contemplative time feeling loved (either from another person or from ourselves) than we typically get. Conversation after conversation with people shows me this. Even interactions with myself show this.
This New Year, may you spend some quiet, contemplative time feeling loved and may your intentions, the healing process of wounds, be deep and nurturing and plentiful.