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Resolutions? Get Real!

by Karen A. Solomon, LCSW, BCD, CGP, CHt

If you are like most people, you may have already given up on your New Years resolutions. You may also be feeling bad about yourself for not following through on your commitment. I think this yearly “tradition” may be a futile attempt to promise ourselves or others to take care of something we have been struggling with for a long time. The suggestion that we will be different and can start fresh in the New Year is very comforting and very seductive. Committing to some future date also allows us to feel less guilty as we continue behaving in our old ways, believing we will be stopping soon.

Unfortunately, January 1 ends up feeling like every other day that we did not want to stop smoking, start exercising, stop yelling at the kids, etc. The reality is when we are ready to commit ourselves to some meaningful endeavor we will do so at that time because we are truly prepared to do so. The bigger question is not when will we be ready, but what do we need to do to get ready and why have we been unsuccessful so far?

Often our bad habits, addictions or other self defeating behaviors are actually serving a purpose beyond the immediate gratification we are aware of. They may be methods we have developed for coping with a variety of stressors in our lives or learned styles of relating to others that are no longer working for us. Once again, our unconscious may be running the show, leaving us feeling out of control and inadequate.

I think it is useful to acknowledge the resolutions we wanted to keep and to work at understanding what stops us from following through. This may be the first and most important step towards achieving our ultimate goal. Rather than waiting till next year to try again, why not use this year to deal with our difficulties and apparent limitations.

For many people, journaling, meditating, or reading relevant books and articles serves to clarify and enhance personal introspection. Support groups and twelve step programs are tremendous aids in stopping unwanted behaviors. Being honest with oneself about how tough it really is to change certain things about ourselves no matter how miserable we are is crucial. Often, we feel tremendous shame about our inability to change. On the surface, it may seem simple to “just say no” or “just do it,” however, the more deeply rooted our stumbling blocks are, the harder it is to shift behaviors.

For some the difficulties and challenges inherent in this process may require professional help. Perhaps asking for help is a meaningful resolution you may keep.

Karen A. Solomon
Office : 631 - 543 - 2050

Commack, New York 11725

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