The new decade has begun and when asked what my new year’s resolutions were, I must admit, that part of me that wanted to be all to everyone dreamed of a life with no missteps. Each word falling from my lips like a sacred humanitarian, my moods always level, my home always delightfully dust-free, my dogs always groomed, my diet never swayed, my relationships over-flowing… and then I allowed myself a moment of truth. Perhaps my resolution is simply to keep showing up for my life; allowing for failure and open to growth. Something obtainable, something honest, where I’m not basing any part of my self-worth on a dream version of myself that is steeped in perfection.
When we really boil it down, I imagine most of us create resolutions in the hopes of jump-starting some procrastinated aspects of ourselves that we feel will improve our lives. But, then we really have to ask ourselves, if it would genuinely improve our life why would we possibly procrastinate? And the answer: We’re scared of who we would have to be to have it, or how those we love would view us if we did. We’re scared we can’t trust ourselves to maintain it. We don’t genuinely believe it possible. We don’t feel we are worthy of having it or being it. We perceive there will be some form of suffering to get from point A to point B. These fears all revolve around our mental health more than our actual abilities. These fears are all built out of past experiences that have led us to believe the status quo is where we should remain. As I see it, it’s these fears that are the real parts of ourselves that insist on re-solutions if we are ever going to truly move forward in our lives.
I am not really a believer in will-power. I see it as convincing ourselves of something rather than allowing ourselves to live. Will-power, where we are fighting against a part of ourselves does not seem like a way to ever achieve internal peace. Believing our health is essential is what keeps our hand out of the cookie jar. Believing we matter, and that our lives matter, and that we are worth it… that is what focuses our attention on other aspects of our life and thus we are never really even thinking about the cookie jar. That idea that it’s not about becoming someone else but rather allowing who you are to emerge. What we want to change about ourselves is our patterns, and that is simply habitual thinking or addiction, and those are both changeable. but not through a simple resolution. Mental health work takes commitment – perhaps that’s the most important resolution. Committing to loving ourselves as we are to continue to grow into the self we seek; recognizing it’s about the journey and not the label of achievement.
I start my clinical mental health counseling practicum in less than a week at a local community college here in Colorado. I’ll be working with an adult population and helping them find solutions to take positive steps forward in their lives. Recognizing that one’s success really is determined, not just by the tools they have or are receiving, but also their determination and courage to utilize those tools in their life. It’s about readiness.
So, consider the miracle question by Insoo Berg, “If you were to wake up tomorrow and all of the positive changes you were desiring had occurred, what would you do differently?” What would you do next? How would you behave? What are you thinking about yourself? What would people notice was different about you? And, most importantly, what if you started to make these changes now? As if what you are seeking existed? As if you deserved it? As if you can see and feel the life you desire and are able to stand in those shoes? As if you’re capable? This is not will-power, this is cultivating. You are cultivating, as well as acknowledging that which already exists in you. The person who reaches your dreams isn’t someone new – it’s still you, and it includes the person you are today who insists on allowing themselves to journey a path to it. So start on the path, and integrate failure, and breathe into it, and allow yourself to hold your worthiness as a given, not a marker. Your resolutions are real. That person standing in those desired life shoes is simply you, with expansive internal space for acceptance and a deep sense of trust in yourself. Happy New Year!