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New Year, Same You: The Compassionate Resolution

We have arrived at the longly anticipated solar return, and as many of us, we start to feel the ambitious "resolution itch", so to speak, to spark the flames of new goals, intentions, and dreams, hoping they catch fire for a spectacle of transformation, accomplishments, or greater health.


When it comes to setting goals, intentions, or resolutions for the New Year, there is no wrong or correct way of sparking your flames of growth. We all have our own creative, personalized expression of hitting the resolution pavement, whether it be joining a new gym; starting a new hobby (dancing, pottery, running); house projects; work projects; creative projects; healing habits or addictions; starting therapy; attracting a soulmate; or deepening a spiritual practice.


What is universal, is most resolutioners (coined term) want to see tangible progress or results within a reasonable time frame: "I want to lose x-amount of weight by the summer"; "I need a new job by Spring Break"; "I want to learn a new language in four months." Structure, organization, and measurability are helpful for achieving our goals and resolutions. Based on this classic approach of naming desires and deadlines, it also begs the questions:


Where is the motivation and intention springing forth to accomplish this resolution, intention, or goal?


and


What part of us is communicating this desire or resolution?


I'll lead with an example of a hypothetical client:

"Well, the motivation to lose weight comes from eagerness, almost a place of anxiety because feeling overweight has been something I've always identified with, and I'm tired of looking at myself and being reminded of that reality...

And I suppose the part of me that is communicating this desire to lose weight is the part of me that is super ashamed of how I look and feel."


From a parts-work or Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy perspective (which I'll explain in great detail in upcoming blogs), these ashamed and critical parts arise in therapy everyday. Essentially, there is an exiled (IFS term) part that feels ashamed for "feeling overweight or not good enough" and the inner-critic or manager (IFS term) must fix or control your physical image to protect the exile from feeling shame. To do this, the inner-critic stirs up anxiety and eagerness to lose weight immediately ("I must lose x-amount of weight by the summer"), so the ashamed part of us doesn't have to be seen or experienced. Generally, it's hard for us to be present with our shame, or "not good enough" part, and we find many ways to distract and attach (relationships, addictions, behaviors) to avoid feeling shame.


So, as you're contemplating your resolutions, I invite you to take a mindful pause and ask yourself once more:

"What part is motivating me to accomplish this resolution?"

Is it the part of me that can never be satisfied?

Is it the part of me that needs external validation from others?

Is it the part of me that has always felt "not enough" as an adult and/or child?

Is it the part of me that sounds like a critical parent ("Get a better job"; "Lose weight"; "Be more productive", etc.)?

Is it the part of me that wants love, connection, and acceptance?

Is it the part of me that just wants to be seen, respected, and acknowledged?

Is it the part of me that wants to be held (emotionally and/or physically)?

Is it the part of me that is compassionate and non-judgmental toward myself?

Is it the part of me that wants internal, emotional, physical, and spiritual healing and satisfaction?


Allow yourself to either contemplate these questions by taking another mindful pause, and simply notice what arises without judgment or thought. Perhaps you notice emotions such as sadness, grief, anger, or frustration? Perhaps you feel sensations of warmth, heat, nausea, or tingling feelings? Placing a kind, gentle hand on where you feel the emotion or sensation is encouraged, and allow the experience to pass, as it is simply a message of aliveness and the presence of YOU. You may have memories, stories, beliefs, or judgments arise from contemplating these questions. If so, ask yourself, "what do I need right now to feel supported, empowered, and connected?" The answer could be as simple as calling a supportive friend, connecting with nature or an animal, taking a walk, or deep breathing. After meeting your need, simply notice any changes physically, emotionally, or mentally. An example could be, "I'm thinking less, and feel spaciousness in my heart, and also feel very relaxed."


The central point here, is we can create our resolutions from a place of compassionate embodiment and loving-kindness. A very brief definition of embodiment is having a conscious and connected relationship to your body, mind, and emotions. Loving-kindness is an attitude of unconditional regard for your self, body, heart, and soul. We operate as a very cognitive, mental culture, and when it comes to self-development and resolutions, it can be easy to allow your thinking-ego mind to take the wheel.


As an experiment, contemplate the above questions to meet your direct needs, and then draft and brainstorm your resolutions or goals. Simply notice what arises when you've surrendered from the thinking-ego mind, to the embodiment of presence and loving-kindness, which from my standpoint, is your essence and who you are. .


Also to note, wanting external things such as a new job, partner/soulmate, car, or body goals can contribute to a very fulfilling life, so this experiential doesn't have to only include our desires for internal satisfaction and regulation. For instance, if you're interested in actively dating to find your match, notice if the desire is motivated from the anxiety to repress loneliness and meet a societal expectation, OR if the desire stems from your own embodied needs, which could be sexual, physical, emotional, intellectual connection and stimulation.


I believe in your journey to wholeness and happiness, you deserve it.


Wishing you an empowering, vibrant, and transformative New Year!


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