12 Jan 2020 Vision
There are so many New Years Resolutions that make us feel hopeful at first, and then like a failure, when we don’t keep up with our own expectations after February 1! Being human, we struggle with perfectionism and the flip-side of it, shame. When we strive to attain our Goals, it can be healthy, unless we expect ourselves to be perfect at it; this is a set up for failure. Developmentally, perfection and shame begins around 1-3 years old. If our parents have unrealistic expectations for what a child should or can do, and then blame us for not being “good enough,” we often make an agreement over our life for perfectionism. We adopt the false belief that we have to be perfect in order to be loved.
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So when it comes to New Years Resolutions, this is either an opportunity for self-compassionate growth, or self-judgement when we inevitably fail to reach our goals. The Inner Critic or Enemy beats us up with the inner dialogue that sounds like this….”You never succeed. You are hopeless. Look at all the people on Facebook who have better lives than you….” I hear this all the time in my counseling office.
Instead of setting unrealistic expectations or higher hurdles for ourselves to jump over, why don’t we consider developing skills that help us learn self-compassion, self-care and nurturance, which will help us thrive long term — emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. When we learn skill sets to help us silence the Internal Critic, and we learn to speak life, grace, and healing over ourselves, we will move forward in all areas of our lives. This will set us up for a constructive New Decade as well as a happier life.
Here are some personal growth questions to ponder as you begin this New Decade.
- Are there any roles you took on in your family of origin that are holding you back from having more joy in your life? Were you the over-responsible child? Perfect all of the time? The problem solver, people-pleaser, or emotion holder for others in your family? If so, what burdens are you carrying today? And what would you like to let go of in 2020 in order to lighten this emotional load?
- What do you need to forgive yourself for? Others? The Universe or God? (If you’d like a good starting point, I recommend the book Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping.)
- How can you learn new ways to embrace yours’ and others’ imperfections with compassion? (Another recommendation: Loving Kindness Meditations by Jack Kornfield.)
- Can you establish a gratitude practice that will help develop the neural networks that support positive thinking? (Finally, I recommend the book Hardwiring Happiness by Dr. Rick Hanson)
Being human is hard work! Life throws us unexpected obstacles and we can’t always get through it alone.
“People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” – Barbara Streisand
The human brain is wired for connection and relationship. We heal in safe relationships, when we can bring our full self into relationship with another human being and be loved and seen through the lens of compassion. Needing emotional safety and support doesn’t mean you are weak, or that somethings wrong with you. It is a sign that something is deeply right with you.
If you need a safe relationship in your life, please feel free to reach out and schedule an appointment. Set yourself up with caring and compassionate accountability to change the patterns in your life for the better, and choose a truly healthier new you in 2020 and beyond!