Happy New Year!
I gave a webinar, New Year’s Resolutions That Will Stick, on Wednesday night. The topic was how to cut through the crap of the usual process of making positive goal-oriented resolutions that usually fail and, instead, look at existing problems that need to be fixed and make resolutions to correct them.
For example, if you entered the year tired, the positive resolution might have been, “This year, I will get eight hours of sleep a night.” This is a setup for failure and will make you feel bad and lose trust in yourself, which is the most important part of your success toolbox. Who came up with this stupid idea to set this type of goal at the beginning of the year?
A more useful tool is the negative resolution. Using this tool, you phrase the goal as, “Since I admit that I haven’t been allowing myself to get enough sleep this past year, I’m going to find some actions I can take that will solve this problem. Let’s see, I could maybe… go to bed earlier, try taking naps, meditating before bed, and have better time management during the day.”
This way, you are suddenly in control by being honest with yourself instead of distracting yourself with some airy-fairy goal. You have identified solutions, maintained trust in yourself, and taken power over the only things we truly control: our time and our health.
But when you form a resolution like, “I will get more sleep this year,” it generates a sense of powerlessness because the “how-to” is not clearly defined.
This negative resolution tool can be applied to many of our concerns. For example, one of the students shared that she doesn’t like herself when she makes a guess with friends when she doesn’t know something. Worse, she then finds herself trying to make the guess into a fact.
When she created a Word of the Day cluster, the words “reputation” and “acceptable” appeared. When she wrote about the cluster, she had the insight that guessing instead of admitting that she didn’t know something was a defense maneuver against her fear of appearing “hippy-dippy and irresponsible.” This is what happens when we’re told to develop self-esteem instead of self-acceptance. Self-esteem has to do with your reputation with yourself and others; clearly, my student was trying to maintain both. She lied to others and, more importantly, to herself, which resulted in feeling bad about who she was. I pointed out that she would not trust a friend or partner who lied to her; that was how she needed to engage with herself to stop the behavior. She saw the true damage she was creating by not treating herself as if she were literally another person with whom she had a close relationship.
My student was very brave to admit this! Her reward was that she then realized that she could accept herself as a person who needs to appear knowledgeable in front of others and not judge herself for this need. Now, since whatever she does is her choice, she can trust herself to make a rational decision. Whatever choices she makes, she controls the outcome and will not spin a guess into a fact. Wow.
You can see that by being honest and accepting of things you don’t like in yourself, you can begin a new relationship of trust and power with yourself!
The point here is that after a two-minute word of the day cluster, my student was completely in control of something that had bothered her deeply for most of her life. She stated her new negative New Year’s resolution like this: “I trust myself to find ways to accept behaviors I don’t like in myself and can find solutions that create self-trust.”
Another student had this to say about the webinar:
In the WOD event last night, Marilyn put us in the direction of creating a resolution to recognize and admit that there is something you don’t like about yourself and that you don’t want to do it anymore. She then gave us some tools for fostering self-trust.
One of the tools was a mirror. Not to check your hair or your makeup but to see yourself and to realize you are not alone; you are in the mirror, and that is a person who is always there for you. Look in the mirror and say, “Hello, pal,” and realize you are never alone.
My WOD was “boundaries.” My New Year’s Eve took a turn for the worse. A relative came to visit my home for two weeks. I did not set boundaries with this person for a healthy personal space. I smiled and thought I would get through it, but my body did not listen and put me in the ER on New Year’s Eve with a crisis blood pressure event. I have hypertension, and I have been on medication for years, but the stress triggered by this person almost caused a stroke.
What I don’t like about myself is that I don’t put myself first and allow myself to be taken advantage of. Now, I resolve to look in the mirror and say, “I am here for you, and this will never happen again!”
If you find this interesting, please subscribe, attend the free webinars, and buy my book that’s coming out in April 2024.
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz