When we create resolutions, the intentions to do, act, or be differently, we often become very hard on ourselves. Every time we act in the old way, we berate ourselves. "Now that I am trying to change, I don't like who I am." "I am a horrible person because I can't stop doing this." "The way I have been for years is bad, nasty, and terrible." These thoughts are natural, but not helpful.
When we finally realize and begin moving toward our best person, we are often ashamed of who and how we have been. But that shame does not propel us forward. Shame is a tool which keeps us stuck. Shame makes us a victim and an awful person. As Brené Brown says, "Shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing expectations about who we're supposed to be. And it's a straightjacket." I agree with Brené, and I don't think shame only holds back women. Shame is a great excuse for not moving forward. Shame tells us our goals are impossible and we should just give up. Shame takes away our power, dignity, and desire to become better.
The alternative to shame is acceptance. When we can accept who we and who we have been, we have the power to make changes. Acceptance does not necessarily mean forgiveness of what we have done, but acceptance means we acknowledge the truth of our actions. Shame keeps us from the truth as it makes us focus on an illusion of what we think we should be or should have done. We can not change illusions. We can only change the truth. By accepting the truth of who we are and who we have been, we are now empowered to make the changes we desire for the future.
There are four very simple ways to begin accepting who you are so you can move into who you want to be.
See the Truth
The first step is to look past the illusion and honestly see the truth. When I work with individuals who are trying to lose weight, the first step is for them to truly see and accept where they are. Yes, they may have 20 more pounds than they would like, but that is the truth of the situation. If they constantly think they should be different than they really are, no changes can be made. We must first accept where we are before we can make changes.
We are often our worst critics. We will tell ourselves how bad, wrong, or horrible we are. This is also not seeing the truth. When we belittle ourselves we are judging ourselves based on our perception of right and wrong. Judging also makes us stuck. We feel a powerless victim to the label. Instead, reframe your actions as being simply "helpful" or "unhelpful." This frees you to make changes as you are not creating lasting negative labels.
Love Your Shadow
We all have positive and negative aspects of ourselves. Sometimes a positive, like having a Type A personality, can become a negative when it is out of control. See yourself as a whole person with shadow and light. One cannot exist without the other. Know your shadow and work to manage it instead of sentencing yourself to unhappiness because you have a shadow.
Celebrate Your Progress
Take a moment and see where you started. Yes, you may not be where you want to be, but how far have you come? Celebrate what you have already accomplished and be grateful for your progress knowing that there is more and better to come.
This new year make your resolutions a reality by accepting the truth of where you are, stopping negative labeling, loving yourself warts and all, and celebrating your progress. In doing so, you will have more power to make your resolutions a reality and will enjoy, instead of dread, the journey. Wishing you all the best in the new year!