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Make New Year's Resolutions You Can Stick With
Gosh, here we are again at the beginning of a new year. Holidays are over, and now we are performing that annual ritual of looking at ourselves (literally and figuratively) and deciding what wed like to change. New Years resolutions are a good thing, and many people have committed themselves to improvements which have brought life-altering positive changes.
The new year is symbolically a time for new beginnings. But I would like to draw your attention to that other annual activity that often begins a few weeks or months from now. That is the annual guilt trip that occurs if we dont stick with our new resolutions. If you are thinking of losing weight, stopping smoking, cleaning out that closet thats been overstuffed for yearsgood for you. Most of us have experienced situations though, where despite our best promises to ourselves, we slowly move back to old habits and ways of doing things. Id like to offer a couple of suggestions.
First consider more than the traditional appearance-improvements or habit-cessations that usually come to mind. There are other changes we can vow to make that have immediate benefits in other areas such as relating to people differently. Smiling more often, a cheerful word, a little extra patience or a supportive comment to someone else, are such small but gratifying changes, that taking the time for them is well worth the effort. Other people will quickly respond differently to you when you show more supportive and friendly interest toward them.
If you choose to work on yourself in the traditional ways, it is sensible to make modest goals to begin with. Instead of vowing to lose 20 pounds or stop smoking altogether, it is more manageable to make commitments to things not so “all-or-nothing” in their description. Committing to simply smoking fewer cigarettes per day, or eating fewer snacks is something that may lead to a future decision to increase your efforts even more, but is far less likely to set you up for feeling guilty if you slide in your resolve.
Focus on what you can do right now, in this present moment such as choose not to take this extra helping of food, or you could put off smoking this cigarette right now. This is a way of approaching life changes that can leave you feeling good about yourself in the here-and-now, and not having to wait until something is totally different. If you make your true resolution one of becoming more aware of each moment as you live it, you wont be fixated on (or worried about) results that are still way out in the future.
However, if you are struggling to resolve something more serious, something that needs more help than you can muster on your own, now is also a good time to consider entering psychotherapy. This is a place where you can discover ways to make personal or relationship changes that you have found too challenging to deal with on your own.
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