Where would we be ...?
Updated: Jul 16
I've stopped beating myself up over the dreaded New Year's Resolutions. Just the word resolution sends shivers up AND down my spine. It sounds so defined, so confined. Way too much gravitas.
I've been using this tagline on social media (which I am currently mad at and so not talking to) and will put into use in 2020 on everything Butterfly Tree:
"Wishful thinker 'cause where would we be without possibility?"
Where would we be, indeed. Unlike the weighted brick of resolution, possibility floats on the current of a light summer breeze. It whispers of technicolor imaginings. What is possible is infinite. What is resolved is dead in the water. Or, because it's Santa time, a lump of hard coal.
I used to think that I had to bully myself into making changes. I had to wag a scolding finger in my own face, make some tsk tsk sounds, and pull a humourless parent expression. And, if that didn't work, I'd bring in the big guns of DISAPPOINTMENT. As in, "Dana, I'm not mad; I'm just so disappointed in you." Can you feel it?
Top of my Resolution list year in and year out, ad nauseum, was "Lose weight" and "Quit smoking". This, of course, was magical thinking, not wishful. Every December, I resolved that as of January 1st, I would awake a reformed smoker and dedicated dieter. Turned out, just wanting it (or, more precisely, thinking I should want it) didn't make it happen. And, so, back onto the list they went the following December. And I felt crappy about myself for another 12 months.
Some years ago, I made a change. It was around the time that I'd newly, tenderly decided to love myself into change instead of threatening to disown me if I didn't buckle down and just do it.
One small modification I made in order to accomplish self-love was to remove the word should from my vocabulary. I replaced it with could, when it made sense to do so.
"I should quit smoking."
"I could quit smoking."
Hear the difference? Should sounds like a shove; could feels like an invitation. When you are being invited to an experience, you are empowered. You have a choice - "Yes." "No." "Maybe later, lemme think about it.."
This tactic works well with my personality type - the one that stubbornly digs in her heels at the slightest hint of being told what to do. I like a challenge, though, so if you tell me I should do something, I'm likely to do the opposite (or sulk). However, if you frame it in could language, I will set about proving to you not only that I can but that I will find my own way there. Pretty sure they call that reverse psychology.
In the spirit of goodwill toward self, I changed my list of Resolutions to Intentions. The Intention part involves asking myself honestly what is in my best interest to focus on in the coming year. I spend time really finding out what feels right and wise. And, because I am simply inviting myself to consider the possibility of taking action, I can modify it as I go along. Instead of pushing myself to do things I really don't want or feel ready to do, I work alongside myself in determining the what, why and how. Teamwork.
Some people work well under pressure. They respond to deadlines (how evocative is that word?) and rely on the perceptible successes of their efforts. They welcome a cheering section of family, friends, and bosses to help them push through to meet their goals. Likely for them, Resolutions are what's needed. The caution here is to recognize that we live in a push hard culture and while that may work for some, it certainly doesn't work for all.
So, whether you write a resolve or intend list for 2020, may you gain a deeper level of self-love and acceptance, paving the way for greater possibility, infinite choice and the freedom that comes with it.
Happy New Year!