It’s the time of year when people are talking about New Year’s resolutions.
We search with renewed energy for the determination to change behaviors that make us unhappy. And maybe you are successful; maybe this is the year that you’ll maintain that resolve. If so, good for you.
But if you don’t, then you have another reason (or at least you tell yourself) to beat yourself up. If February rolls around, and you’ve slipped back into your old habits, then you can struggle with shame. Once more, you tried again, and failed.
Those thoughts are simply not helpful. We all need a more positive context — which is acceptance of the difficulty of change, and acceptance of ourselves.
This may seem contradictory at first, but consider this. If you deny you have a problem, nothing happens. If you resign myself to the problem, you’ll be paralyzed by it and give up. If you can accept that you have a problem, you can look at it squarely in the eye and begin to do something about it. And realize that changing and maintaining change is no walk in the park. It’s going to take time, effort and understanding when old habits want to creep back in.
This seems simple but folks get acceptance confused with resignation, “No! I can’t accept it. I want to change it. I HAVE to change it. I want it gone!”
Many of the things we want to change about ourselves are things we hate. We actually give the problem more power through that hatred. We feel shame that we have created the problem or are part of the problem still existing. We have been too weak. We have procrastinated. Denied. Justified. Been afraid.
Taking your share of the responsibility? That’s a good thing. But carrying around shame about it? That shame will keep you stuck. That self-loathing and condemnation of your situation only serve to convince you that you are not worth fighting for in the first place.
It is through acceptance that you can find the freedom that will lead you to change your thoughts and behaviors. Yet t’s hard to accept what we hate and move past those feelings so they don’t paralyze us. So it is important to look at yourself kindly and with the same compassion that you might offer others.
Because you are worth it.
I hope this New Year brings you that courage and belief in yourself.
Click here for “Marriage Is Not For Chickens,” the new gift book by Dr. Margaret! It’s perfect for engagements, anniversaries, weddings, or for the person you love!
You can hear more about relationships and many other topics by listening to Dr. Margaret’s new podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford.