The Truth About Resolutions
A new year can bring both hope and stress, depending on your outlook. We have all made a New Years resolution, only to feel guilty about not reaching our goals as soon as expected. Many times, there’s a lot of pressure around the new year to start fresh and to dedicate yourself to creating a new and improved you. Frequently, this means our resolutions center around weight loss. While the intentions behind these resolutions may be good, we as a society, should not enforce these potentially toxic ideals. Instead, we should focus on results other than changes to our physical appearance to create a healthier relationship with ourselves. Let’s discuss the truth about resolutions and how to create healthier, more obtainable goals for the upcoming year.
Traditional resolutions, such as losing weight, are often steeped in shame. If you have made a resolution like this in the past, was it because you actually wanted to, or because you felt you needed to out of guilt, shame, or unworthiness? The subliminal messaging behind resolutions is often that we are not good enough as we are, and that if we could be just a little “better” our life would be more enjoyable. So, while we think our resolutions to be thinner, richer, or more well-behaved are for self-betterment, they actually show the deeply ingrained shame in ourselves. These resolutions make us believe that on January 1st, we will be a completely new person instead of working to accept, appreciate, and love ourselves as we are. Then, if you end up breaking your resolution, you will probably feel the shame even stronger than before.
Now, all this is not to say we cannot change ourselves in healthy and productive ways. It is important to remember, however, change is gradual and takes a considerable amount of time and effort to create. In other words, change will not happen overnight. Studies show about one third of resolutions don’t even make it past the first month. This is, again, because our resolutions are often unrealistic and hard to maintain long term.
Behavior Modification vs. Results
Try to make a resolution that focuses on changing your behavior rather than a desired result. This way, if you do not reach your exact goal, you will not be setting yourself up for disappointment. The truth is, if you get discouraged by not reaching your goal, it is more likely you will give up than continue trying. For example, a resolution to move your body 2 times a week is more obtainable and you are inherently developing the healthy habit of joyful movement rather than fixating on an arbitrary number on a scale. Furthermore, you could make a resolution to modify your eating habits. For instance, try to incorporate more vegetables in your daily eating. Again, this is setting yourself up to create healthier habits that can carry on throughout your life.
You may still misstep and have days or weeks where you struggle to maintain your resolution. This is natural and a part of the change process; just remember to keep trying! Moreover, remember weight loss is not necessarily a sign of a healthy lifestyle. Your weight will fluctuate throughout your life, but the healthy habits you work to develop will stick with you for a lifetime. Thus, creating resolutions that focus on healthy behavior modification will be more beneficial for you in the long run.
Seek Guidance For a Successful New Year
It may be helpful to discuss your desires for the upcoming year with a licensed therapist. Together, you can develop healthy, realistic resolutions and a plan to achieve your goals successfully. If you struggle with your body image specifically, therapy provides an opportunity to develop healthier ways of coping and the skills needed to appreciate yourself in your own skin. Meredith O’Brien and her mental health Affiliates strive to provide a safe and nurturing environment for all their clients. Through respect and validation, the ladies at Meredith & Affiliates will work with you to restore your hope for the upcoming year and years to come. For more information, or to book an appointment, visit their website.