Resolutions Fizzle? Try New Year’s Realizations
Statistically, most new year’s resolutions produce squat. All but a tiny handful go from high hopes to zero in a matter of days. Lose weight? Ha! Work out and put on muscle? Double ha! Make more money and get along better with family or whoever? Fuggedaboudit!
Even apart from the new year period, the fact is, most folks spend their time focusing on the ways things go wrong: What didn’t get done; what I don’t like, can’t do, am not suited to, wouldn’t be interested in, and anyway it’s just an awful lot of bother. That’s the best worn pathway in most of our minds.
Two main ways most folks talk about new year’s resolutions: One way is with great resolve and hope. The future gleams before us anew, and we’re giddy with the thought of making a fresh start. A start in which we won’t be shackled by any failings and weaknesses that might have hobbled us in the past. This attitude is most common around the first week or two in any new year.
The second way we talk about hopeful new ambitions is with a wry, not-quite-cynical-but-close-to-it grin of dismissal. We may be apologetically pushing away our own pretensions of optimism, or we might be discussing someone else’s obviously overblown and hopeless ambitions.
However, as the Buddha said,
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”
And in another place,
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”
Notice what I wrote above? That the most common habitual way of thinking about ourselves, about our hopes and our aspirations is dismissive, even slightly cynical? Indeed we are what we think.
Notice also that the other way, the optimistic and hopeful way is on the right track, but it has little staying power. At the first signs of opposition it usually cools like stale steam and drips away in tiny dribbles.
So in the spirit of the new (possibly world-changing) new year, I have a different suggestion, one that I like to call New Year’s Realizations.
More about that in a moment, but first, I’d like to share with you some extremely well-thought-out observations and suggestions from guest author Peter Vajda on ways we use to keep ourselves inside the failure fence.
One Way We Might Subvert Resolve in 2012
By Peter Vajda, Ph.D, C.P.C.
New Year’s resolutions are on the tip of most everyone’s pen and tongue. Thousands of suggestions, “how tos,” and “best ways” are being offered to help folks make, and carry through on, their New Year’s resolutions. Sadly, as in past years, 98% of those who make resolutions will have given up or failed by Valentine’s Day.
Three major causes of failure are:
|(1)||most of our resolutions are “mental” that is, often they are simply thoughts that are wrapped in a burst of enthusiasm that is ephemeral and short-lived,|
|(2)||our intentionality does not come from “inside” from our Core Self, our heart and soul and|
|(3)||we are caught in a “victim mentality” where scapegoating runs our lives. As victims, we are so obsessed with blaming that we lack the strength to gain clarity about why we resist change or fail to follow through on our intentions.|
When we understand the nature of the “victim consciousness,” we gain insight into how true and real change occurs.
The victim is rife with self-limiting and self-sabotaging habits and patterns of living, working and relating. It is these self-limiting patterns that prevent us from do-ing and be-ing from a place of integrity, responsibility, maturity, accountability, dedication, and commitment. It is our subconscious drives that cause us pain and suffering.
When we look deeply inside, honestly and self-responsibly, we uncover our shadow self – a self, feeling victimized, that lives a life of greed, ruthlessness, egocentricity, blind ambition, irresponsibility, inaction, and/or self-sabotage. Choosing to reflect and become conscious of these habits, patterns and programming in an effort to release them supports us to evolve to a place where clarity and a truthful picture of our inner and outer realities will serve us well.
When we look deeply inside and reflect, we become more able to transmute the energies of our self-limiting habits and patterns into the energy of authenticity, integrity and trustworthiness – supported by our inner qualities of courage, commitment and steadfastness.
Four characteristics of a victim mentality are:
- lack of clarity about our goals: ping-ponging between and among realistic and unrealistic or illusory expectations and goals, and blaming others for our lack of clarity;
- inability to deal with time and resource limits and constraints and blaming other people and events for our inability to use time and other resources effectively and intelligently;
- confusion around the law of cause and effect – lack of awareness about how we are creating/causing the current events in our life and a lack of clarity about how we can change our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, intentions, behaviors and actions to effect positive change, believing that my issues are not about “me” but about others who are responsible for my issues; and,
- denial that my life choices have positive or negative mental, physical, emotional and spiritual effects on my overall health and well-be-ing, and that my pain and suffering are caused by some external event or circumstances.
Mired in the quicksand of victimization, we find ourselves constantly projecting our anger and negativity on to events, circumstances and others for our predicament. We project our (unconscious) inner frustration with ourselves out towards anyone or anything we feel we can blame for our state in life. Sadly, we’re actually creating our own universe but blaming others because it’s not what we want.
Taking time for honest and conscious self-reflection supports us to take responsibility for our self – including our “dark side.” Self-reflection sheds light on the “stories” we make up to avoid taking responsibility for how we project our “stuff” on to the world. Self-reflection supports us to identify how our emotional programming – anger, fears – create our lives at work, at home, at play and in relationship.
When we are honest and clear about our wants and needs, and what we are willing to do, we can create a solid foundation for our personal growth and development. We attract and relate with others who share the same self-empowering life view.
When we understand the lessons we need to learn from our current situation, what we need to do becomes obvious. Then we have to choose to take action. However, this understanding requires focus, commitment, consistency and compassion for our self.
Spending time in our inner world through meditation, silence, journaling, etc., is both emotionally and spiritually nourishing. This nourishment supports awareness of the “how” and “why” things appear in our lives – how we are creating our personal universe. Time in our inner world nurtures our capacity for self-love and self-kindness – which support us to create and inhabit a love-based, victim-less personal universe.
In this place of safety and protection, we begin to extricate our self from a victim mentality and move forward from a place of positivity and steadfastness. In our inner world, there can be no victimization as it’s a place of neutrality – a place of soul qualities – clarity, peacefulness, groundedness, stillness, surrender and allowing.
Self-reflecting helps us observe how we use our emotions to create our inner and outer worlds, our worlds of victimization. For example, are we being “nice” to accommodate others in our attempt to feel acknowledged, seen and loved or because we authentically wish to engage in adult, heart-felt, mature relationships – are we holding our physical, emotional and psychological boundaries with others or allowing others to threaten and abuse our boundaries so we can feel wanted and liked?
Once we have cultivated support, self-love and solid ground within, we can expand our space to include others. But we must be very conscious not to include any event, circumstance, idea, thing or person who will take us away from our center, from our self-love and move us back into feeling the victim.
When we surrender to someone else’s agenda, at work, at home, at play and in relationship, we enter their universe as a victim. The important question is why we allow others to control us. Perhaps,
|(1)||We lack our own solid and self-confident life agenda;|
|(2)||We aren’t in touch with our heart and soul and we don’t trust ourselves;|
|(3)||We look to satisfy our wants and needs outside ourself and accommodate and compromise to be taken care of; or|
|(4)||We follow a path of least resistance in an attempt to avoid conflict and “keep the peace.” In all of these, we give away our power and become the victim.|
Inner work and self-reflection, done diligently can often support us to
|(1)||to realize our own authority,|
|(2)||to assume responsibility for what we create and|
|(3)||to own the consequences of our choices, decisions and actions.|
Inner work and self-reflection can support us to focus on what really matters, to let go of what holds us back, to trust our soul and Spirit for guidance and to use our core, inner strength (not “willpower” which hardly ever works) to take positive action for our self instead of engaging in self-destructive and self-sabotaging actions, releasing our self from the stranglehold of victimization.
Many “resolutions” are not conscious choices. They are knee-jerk reactions to something we don’t like about our self – and it’s usually about our “packaging” or some surface issue. True “resolve” requires a deep, inner, and conscious process. The start of 2012 is a wonderful opportunity to change our experience of failed “resolutions” to one of true and lasting change and transformation. We can choose to release the victim within and see what being in true control of our life is really, really like.
So, some questions for self-reflection are:
- Who or what is my guiding authority? How is this authority working for me?
- What are my core values and how do they direct my choices and decisions at work, at home, at play and in relationship?
- How do I choose and implement my personal standards?
- Am I self-reliant? How so?
- Do I ever explore the dynamics of my inner world?
- What bright light shines in my inner world?
- What does not shine in my inner world? Do I know why?
- What feelings and thoughts inhabit my inner world? Are they supportive or limiting?
- Who’s in my personal world? Are they supportive or toxic? Do I want them there? How have I attracted them into my life?
- Did I (or others in my family) experience being a victim when I was growing up? How so? What was that like?
- How can I create a more nurturing, loving and compassionate inner world for my body, mind and emotions?
SpiritHeart – Coaching for Essential Well-BE-ing
— at the intersection of body, mind, emotion and spirit
Values-Based Coaching, Counseling and Training
Phone: 770.804.9125 (Atlanta, GA, USA)
E-mail: pvajda [AT] spiritheart [DOT] net
www.spiritheart.net and www.ahchiyo.com
“What makes you think work and meditation are two different things?”
— Buddha at Work
Back to Charles:
….. We’re not beginners here. We know that our thoughts create our reality. Our thinking forms our path beneath our feet even as we’re stepping forward into it. Yes, we know it, but…
So the question is, why don’t we see more change in our lives, more satisfaction, more positive achievement?
And in that very question lies the answer we’re seeking so desperately. To be satisfied, we find ourselves needing more, more, more.
However, what if we decided to put some of that dissatisfaction on hold for a bit, and – just for a little while – dip a tentative toe into the pool of satisfaction instead?
Rather than keeping that so-elusive satisfaction far, far away, out there in the future somewhere, couldn’t we – just for a little while – find something we have right now to be satisfied with? Even one little thing?
After all, if we’re what we think, what are we thinking? What are we thinking?
New Year’s Realizations
So my big suggestion is really quite small and easily accomplished. Instead of our usual frantic, frenetic round of doing, of running in this and that direction, what if we just think a few of our thoughts differently – just for a little while – and watch what happens?
Now, the conjoined twin of cynicism is impatience. They always walk in together, a matching pair, and where you see one, you’ll find the other as well. Of course it has to be that way. Isn’t it obvious that cynicism and low expectations cannot bear being in the presence of patience? And vice versa?
The other day I mentioned to a friend that this year I’d be doing New Year’s Realizations rather than the traditional resolutions. She asked, do you mean realizations as in “new awarenesses” or realizations as in “things that become real”?
My answer: why make a choice? If we’re doing the new awarenesses properly, then the new things becoming real will follow quite naturally and easily.
That’s why, in 2012, I’ll be spending more time on my thoughts and mental processes, and I’ll be spending less time thinking about all the stuff I want more, more, more of.
Instead, I’ll be directing my thinking toward all the things I’m glad about, all the things I’m thankful are already in my life, all the ways I already have so much joy and happiness and fulfillment and health and friends and family and satisfaction in my life.
I hope you’ll join me – just for a little while – in these New Year’s Realizations.
Cheers from the end of 2011,
P.S. Leave a comment below and tell me what you think. Even better, tell me what you’re going to do?