As New Years approaches, let’s try something different. Studies show that approximately 40% of people make New Years Resolutions, but only between 8–19% of people actually follow through on fulfilling those promises two years later which means that 81–92% of people who make New Years Resolutions wind up feeling like undisciplined losers…
Most of us already have plenty of inner work ahead of us to fully recover from whatever “not enough” wounds we inherited during childhood. So why add insult to injury every New Years Day? This New Years, instead of focusing on all the ways we’re not good enough, beating ourselves up for all the ways we wish we would change, what if we try loving and accepting ourselves just as we are?
Try something new for a change.
Don’t try to stop smoking.
Don’t give up booze.
Don’t throw out your pot.
Don’t ditch the donuts.
While you’re at it, don’t join the gym. Don’t try to meditate every day. Don’t promise to get over your money issues. Don’t resolve to lose twenty pounds. Don’t quit the job you hate. Don’t leave your deadbeat boyfriend. Don’t try to be a better mother/daughter/friend. Don’t give up internet porn.
Don’t finish that novel. Don’t sign up for that art class. Don’t declutter your house. Don’t get out of debt.
When you make promises to yourself before you’re ready to make big changes, you just prove to yourself what you’ve suspected all along – that you don’t have the willpower, you’re not trustworthy and you never follow through on your word.
You pay big bucks to Jenny Craig, but you never follow the program. You sign up for the art class, but you don’t start painting. You look at your computer, but you don’t write your novel. You Google 12 step programs but then you never go. You sign up for that green juice cleanse and then you go right back to eating junk. You pay the $99 every month, but you don’t actually go to the gym. You make a budget but then you don’t follow it. You break up with your boyfriend and two days later, you sleep with him. You try to quit your job until they offer you a raise and you get imprisoned by the golden handcuffs.
Every time you make a promise to yourself that you don’t keep, you trigger your “not enough” wound. And when you feel like crap, what do you do? You smoke that cigarette/eat that ice cream/start jonesing for that drug or that sex or your couch potato lifestyle. When you make promises to yourself that you don’t keep, you make the habit worse.
Instead, wait until you’ve decided it’s really time.
Draw the line in the sand.
Refuse to accept anything less than 100% recovery.
Know that this time, it’s for real. And mean it.
I’m not suggesting that there’s not a time for transformation or that those 8–19% who do keep their New Years Resolutions shouldn’t celebrate. I’m not suggesting that breaking some addictions doesn’t require hardcore, brutal commitment, intense discipline, and the support of a community of others who are committed to recovery.
But what if we can trust that when the time for change is ripe, we will recognize it and jump at the opportunity? What if trying to change before you’re ready only exacerbates the problem? When you put one foot on the gas and on foot on the brakes, you expend a lot of gas going absolutely nowhere.
So why not wait until you’re ready? Until you’re 1000% on board with your decision to transform, don’t kick the habit. Give yourself permission to buy that pack of cigarettes or that bottle of wine or that blunt. Love yourself as you smoke or drink or get high. Love yourself as you lounge on the sofa and binge on potato chips. Love yourself as you overspend, overindulge, oversex, overgive, overprocrastinate. Cancel the gym membership. Drop out of the art class. Close your computer. Get off the scale. Inhale all the way.
And love yourself just as you are. Radically love and accept every little flaw that makes you who you are, for better or for worse.
When you do, something magical happens. At some point, when you least expect it, in the midst of this love-fest, a spark will catch fire. The flame of your Inner Pilot Light will grow. The light will outshine the darkness. The darkness will no longer be able to resist the light.
When you love yourself so much, in spite of your imperfections, you will hit a point on some future day, and it will come when you least expect it. It won’t be a resolution or a promise or anything they make you do in rehab. It won’t stem from shame. It will come from self-love, self-care, and a true desire for change. It will come from within, and it could even be easy. When that happens, change may even be permanent. When your Inner Pilot Light ignites and takes over the wheel, change may happen effortlessly, and you will never look back.
If that time isn’t here yet, you will never succeed in quitting, no matter how much you try to convince yourself you want to quit. Your failure will be guaranteed, and then you will prove to yourself – once again – what a loser you are.
But you’re not a loser, my love. You just haven’t decided yet. And that’s okay. Please forgive yourself.
Until you decide the time is now, you might as well give yourself permission to enjoy that cigarette, to breathe it in, to breathe it out, and to throw your arms out as you do…
Is now the time?
If you need help igniting your Inner Pilot Light, you can register for free love letters from your Inner Pilot Light here. If you feel like you need a Soul Tribe to help support a year of radical self-acceptance in a community committed to practice, purpose, and belonging, we’d love to have you among us here.
Happy New Years,
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