Updated: Dec 12, 2019
At the beginning of every new calendar year many of us make resolutions to change our habits, with the intention of changing ourselves, by giving something up or adding something new. We feel that a new year is a fresh start, full of potential. We enter the year with thoughts of an ‘improved’ version of ourselves, with renewed optimism of becoming the person we want to be; the person we feel we could, or should, be.
January is the time when the excitement, gifting and feasting of the festive period is over, the trough to the Christmas peak. December is a very stressful month for most of us and often its preparations have started long before the month itself. Advertising bombardment begins weeks beforehand (one of my local garden centres had their Christmas decorations up in July, forgoing any future business from me) and there is no other time of the year that commands such commitment of ourselves and our time, energy and money over such a long period prior to the event itself.
Is the difficulty we have in keeping our resolutions due to a lack of will power? Well, no. At a time of vulnerability when it is essential to restore and replenish ourselves, we are then bombarded with advertising for diet plans and gym memberships that are intended to encourage us to feel guilt for our celebratory feasting which was actively encouraged, often by the very same advertisers, only a few weeks previously.
It's a tried and tested approach which reinforces our 'New Year, New You' thoughts of self improvement, feeding our insecurities and adding to the internal mental and emotional pressure for us to change, quite deliberately sending us the message that we are not enough as we are, that we would be better people if only we were thinner/fitter/healthier/started a diet plan/joined a gym.
Emotion takes energy and energy flows where it is focused. If we are encouraged to focus on feeling guilty, that's where our energy goes; it is what we will energetically feed in us. Advertisers depend on this emotional engagement and flow of energy as it's what encourages us to buy their products. Their marketing is intended to make us feel this way so that they can present their product as the solution to the 'problem' they themselves have helped create.
As January moves on and our resolutions fall by the wayside, we get disheartened and disappointed, chastising ourselves by thinking that if only we could be disciplined enough to make the changes we placed upon ourselves, we could be a better person. And this becomes a vicious circle of guilt and shame. When guilt becomes shame, and when instead of understanding our emotions and actions they become more about defining ourselves, we move from 'I failed at keeping this resolution' to 'I am a failure', losing all perspective of our actions and sending the message to ourselves that we are not good enough as we are.
You are good enough. You are not a project that has to be constantly bettered, improved or re-invented. You can be unchanging and familiar, celebrating yourself for what you are right now. It’s OK to stay the same and just be in this world. It really is, you know.
If you want to develop yourself, this is good too but you don't need to lose or gain a stone/work on your abs/book a fantasy holiday/get a bikini body/be a yoga queen or a meditation master to do this. And you don’t have to wait for a new year for renewed optimism – every minute, every hour, every day is full of the potential for you to gain a greater awareness and appreciation of yourself.
You have everything you will ever need to accept, love and appreciate yourself. Get to know yourself. Develop an objective awareness of your emotions. You are not your emotions - they do not define you - they are only what you are feeling right now. Allow gentleness and kindness into your life, being a little more compassionate and loving to yourself. Then you can begin to see and appreciate the rich, constant threads that run through your life, developing love and admiration for your life and your glorious self, just as you are.
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