Making New Year’s Resolutions sounds like a good idea, but sometimes can be hard on the self-esteem. Let’s look closely at the process. First we must take an inventory of all our faults, and then we tell ourselves that we will fix them all in the coming year. This is like getting a report card with only the bad marks, and then a whole pile of assignments that must be done to improve the marks. This does not sound like a happy way to start a new year.
Too many people want to through away the old year, glad that it’s over, and think a new year will make everything better. A year of living is too precious to discard so readily. It might be wiser to look at the past year, and to list all of our successes, all of the good things that happened. For some, there may seem to have been more problems than happy times, but even bad times are rich with opportunities for learning and growth.
Life’s journey will naturally leave us with some bruises and scars, but the human spirit was designed to be resilient. When someone climbs a mountain, they don’t talk so much about the struggles along the way, as they do about the exhilaration of reaching the top. Marathon runners may experience many times during the run, the feeling that they simply cannot go on. As difficult as it might be, there is the joy of accomplishment, and most do not fret over how well they ran, or how hard it was. It is enough to have done it.
Even if we have had a difficult year, we must honor ourselves for having persevered, and more than ever it is important to acknowledge our strengths. Unfortunately, in our culture, we tend to exaggerate our perceived deficiencies, and to minimize our good qualities. If there are people in our lives who criticize or put us down, it becomes even harder to see ourselves in a good light.
We all understand the concept of support and encouragement, for we have all had the experience of giving this to others. What is harder, is to give this same support and encouragement to ourselves. So don’t start the New Year by beating yourself up. Instead, begin by acknowledging your accomplishments, no matter how small. Celebrate the fact that you gained an insight, resolved a problem, made someone smile, stood up for yourself. Certainly you can resolve to change some things, but see those changes are making an already good person even better. Remember, even if you don’t meet all of your goals, you will still be a wonderful human being. Happy New Year.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca