It’s that time again–the time when millions of people make New Year’s Resolutions for their bodies and health. For the past week, as is typical every year around this time, I’ve seen slews of articles about how to make new years resolutions, what you should make them for, and even, many articles saying, “screw New Year’s Resolutions–they just make you feel bad about yourself.” I don’t have any strong opinion on whether you should have them or not. My feeling is that the most important thing to examine is whether or not you’re being kind to yourself if you’re going to have them.
I used to have New Year’s Resolutions for my eating and exercising and body every year. To be honest, I really had them about every month for the next month, or any other possible time I could say would be a beginning of some kind. Truth is, my eating was all over the place and so I always felt like I needed that new start. I’d make plans and write it all out exactly what I was going to do. And did I do it? Maybe 5% of the time. Did it last as long as I wanted it to? Never.
I used to feel a mix of emotions about resolutions. I felt excitement about the idea of finally achieving my goals, but also fear that I wouldn’t follow through. During the pre-New Year’s Resolutions days as well as at the beginning of the new year, my inner mean drill sergeant would come out full swing. Thoughts in a very mean tone of voice ran through my head constantly: “You better do this. You need to stick to what you’re saying you’ll do” and “Other people can handle eating well and exercising. What’s wrong with you? You’re going to change now and forever” and even really mean things like “You’re pretty disgusting; are you going to be that way for yet another year?” In general, I felt anxiety, dread, fear, and excitement… though now I can see it wasn’t really true excitement but really more anxiety, and any glimmer of hope I felt wasn’t really super strong and wasn’t backed by any confidence. In other words, I dared to hope but was mostly nervous and suspected I would fail.
Whenever we make resolutions by dragging ourselves into them, forcing them, or bullying ourselves into them, we are not truly loving ourselves. In fact, we’re using the idea of resolutions to abuse ourselves. And whether it’s the new year or anytime, we need to start seeing our self-talk for what it is: abuse. Of ourselves. And that’s sad. It’s very, very sad. Would you drag a child by their hair into some achievement meanwhile telling them they’re bad and better change? It sounds harsh, but it is what we are doing to ourselves, and it is very damaging to our own souls.
I used to think that if I was nice to myself, I’d blow up like a balloon and gain even more weight than I already had. That my eating would be worse than it already was. I already lost sleep over it, had digestive issues over it, skin issues, low energy, and felt miserable all the time. I figured it would just get worse. My belief was that nice = lazy. Kindness to myself = apathy. But this is not true. When we are truly kind to ourselves, it comes from love. And when we really and truly love ourselves, we will not eat more. We’ll eat only what we need and not eat too much. When we love ourselves, we naturally gravitate towards healthful food without trying. When we love ourselves, we do not become lazy and apathetic and more addictive. If we thought that we were being nicer to ourselves but we noticed we were eating even worse or just the same — in other words, our eating did not change for the better — then we weren’t truly growing in self-love. The more self-love we have, the more our eating will reflect what someone who truly loved themselves and their body would eat.
Begin by becoming more open to the fact that you might be being quite mean to yourself. Now, and perhaps all the time. Be vulnerable to that truth. It is a very, very sad thing that we decide that spending a life being unloving to ourselves is ok. If you really soften your heart into it, you might feel some fear. Fear that you won’t ever reach your goals, for example. You might feel some sadness, because it’s sad you’ve learned somewhere in your life to abuse yourself. Feel how stressful it is. How much pressure it is. How bad it feels. Have an emotional release.
If you have an emotional release regarding your tendencies to beat yourself up and bully yourself in regards to food, you will feel a shift. After you have this release, you may feel that you still want to have some goals for the New Year, but you don’t feel the same kind of negative edge about it. The bully has retreated some, or perhaps completely. You are far more likely to achieve those goals anyways after feeling through your lack of self-love. You might also feel like you don’t need to place so much significance on New Year’s, and that New Year’s is really no better or worse time to start being more loving to yourself in the way you think, eat, exercise, and live. Maybe you’ll want to start living healthier right away.
I wish you a happy, healthy, and loving new year. Here’s to making changes to our health while still loving ourselves!