The Danger of the New Year
Yes, New Year’s Resolutions can be dangerous. Most people fall into four categories: the ones who make resolutions to keep others happy, the ones who make resolutions because they don’t love and accept themselves for who they are, the people who want to deal with causes not symptoms, and those who make resolutions to seek approval or gain.
1. Making resolutions to keep others happy. For instance, some people make resolutions like “I will quit smoking” even though they’re not ready to do the work. What they really want is
to not be treated like a pariah because they still smoke. If you don’t want to quit smoking, don’t quit! If you really want to quit smoking, then do the work—figure out why you smoke,
what function it serves, and what would be a healthier, less self-abusive way of accomplishing that same function. Don’t fool yourself about it being a simple physiological addiction.
2. Making resolutions because you don’t love and accept yourself as you are, and think accomplishing “this” or “that” will make you a better person, more loved by the world.
The thought process of “I am going back to the gym, eating better, and watching less TV so I can be a healthier, better person who loves themselves” is only looking at the short-term.
Making temporary changes for a New Year makeover will only last so long. Do a self-assessment of how you really feel about yourself, about what you want to change, and
most importantly why you want to change. What led you to where you are now that could lead you right back there? Think deeply and figure it out on your own first.
3. Making resolutions that deal with symptoms, not causes. For example, “I won’t be so critical of my spouse or my children,” or telling yourself, “I will stop doing this, and that will
make me a better person.” Instead of getting stuck in negative thinking, make a list of aspects of yourself you want to change to “be a better person.” Then, look to the root of these
aspects, the why’s and when’s, to figure to how they serve you. Why do you criticize others? Why do you overeat? Are these habits self-protection mechanisms to hide your true,
vulnerable self from others? Or maybe even from yourself? Look at the masks you’re wearing; in the long run, these can do more damage than good. Then, ask yourself what you can
replace these habits with that still allows you to function in the world. Once you’ve figured out why, you can create a positive resolution, such as “I will be more affirming.”
4. Making resolutions to seek approval or gain. “If I lose ten pounds, I will look better and people will like me.” “If I lose weight, I’ll find love.” “I will work longer to get that promotion at work
in order to gain the support, intimacy, and love I want at home.” “If I go to church every Sunday, God will save me from this mess I have created called my life.” First, take a good
long look at the choices you’ve made to put you in whatever situation you’re attempting to bargain your way out of. We all decide what we want, why we want it, for whom we want it,
and when. Understanding the choices of your past will point you to your priorities. And if you don’t like the priorities you see, then you can shift them to get back to how you wanted to be.
The world will adjust to a truer you, and although it may take time, you’ll see a happier you.
Why are these dangerous? Because they set us up to fail, and give us something to beat ourselves up about. These resolutions set us up for disappointment and loss of trust when we
make promises to others that we can’t keep. Above all else, these resolutions help us avoid doing the real work to create the New Year we really want and deserve. When we do the hard
work instead of reach for easy fixes, we can create resolutions that stick.