With that harsh winter behind us, it is definitely time to come out of hibernation and enjoy the sunshine. Summer is also an excellent time to reflect on our New Year’s Resolutions. If you are like a lot of people, you may be struggling to meet your goals or even get started. This by no means is a sign that you are lazy or weak. Circumstances such as loss or illness or work stress or relationship troubles may be holding you back. Or, you may have fallen into some thinking traps, saying “yes” to too many things or focusing too much on the outcome. Often our goals can be punitive, based on deprivation and self-criticism. But as I’ve written about before, this “tough love” approach just doesn’t work. Many folks either end up overindulging or keep finding excuses not to start and then end up “beating themselves up”. Sadly, this zaps our motivation and can often leave us feeling worse than when we started. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
What if we could set our goals in a more nurturing way, asking ourselves what we need, not what we need to change? What if we could learn to see our worth, not based on our accomplishments or what we do for others, but simply on being? What if we believed we were enough and our needs mattered? What if we gave ourselves permission to foster joy and be flexible?
Life coach and best selling author Daniel LaPorte argues goals need to come from the soul and be based on how we want to feel not what we think we should be doing. Learning to become mindfully aware of what activities and relationships feel good is the first step towards achieving your goals. Contrary to what some might think, spending time on what might seem frivolous or indulgent is essentially what we need to thrive and then the secret is “small things often”.
Our motivation increases when we, as Rick Hanson, explains, soak up all those good feelings. I take deep breaths when I am outside, noticing how the air both energizes and calms me. Taking pictures when I’m in nature and sharing these with others is another way to “take in the good”. Using visualization and repetition help to strengthen our desire and capabilities. Switching from accomplishment to gratitude is another powerful ally. I give thanks for the strength and flexibility of my body when I am exercising and for the opportunity to eat healthy food.
Lastly, in order to maintain our success, we need to be flexible with our expectations. Some days we are just not going to feel like that run or that salad. Those are the days when instead of being hard on ourselves, we need to be kind and think about the bigger picture; it really is not the end of the world. But ongoing self-criticism and totally giving up on our health and wellness goals can have devastating consequences.
I know this can be a hard road to travel when our core beliefs of unworthiness or putting others’ first are so deeply ingrained. Come to FCC’s weekly walk-in counselling clinic to take that first, most important step towards living the life you have always imagined. Have you experienced the power of therapy or seen the transformation in someone you love? We are looking for individuals and organizations to join us in a variety of ways to celebrate our 75th anniversary this year. Juke Box Mania is one of them.
Nicole, July 2015