Friday, December 31, 2010

Gifts, Not Resolutions

I have mentioned in the past that I write for a little, independent newspaper out of Bellingham, Washington. While I very rarely cross the streams, I liked January's article a lot so, here it is...

Happy New Year, Poppets! Have you recuperated yet? Are you ready to start fresh in 2011? Because that’s what new years are for, right? Fresh starts, resolutions, changing who we are, all that. Only…I don’t believe that. As I have written here before, I am all for making personal changes; I am not a fan of the pressure to make said changes based on the turn of the calendar.
When I worked in human services - a long time ago, in another life – we would often get people who had made it through the holidays, made it through New Year’s, but would show up in our offices sometime between mid-January and mid-April, horribly depressed because once again they had failed to lose weight, quit smoking, save money, whatever their resolution had been. They had used this time to try to stop being self-destructive even though there is no reason to think it will work any better now than it does on a random Tuesday in March. But they beat themselves up as if they had failed at something simple.

I was talking to Lithus about this the other day, explaining why I don’t like New Year’s resolutions, when he said something that struck me. He said that there are people who hold out for this particular turn of the calendar with the hopes of not just making a change, but the hopes of forgiving themselves for the past year’s (even years’) sins. They use whatever resolution they make as a manifestation of that forgiveness. But the forgiveness isn’t really there, so the resolution doesn’t stick. When the resolution doesn’t stick, it just proves we don’t deserve to be forgiven. And if we aren’t forgiven, then why do we deserve to stop being self-destructive? It’s a cycle.
It kind of rocked me back on my heels. I’ll be honest; I had never thought of it that way.
So this year, I have a suggestion. Let’s make forgiving ourselves our New Year’s resolution. One year for Lent, a friend of mine gave up self-loathing. For my thirty-fifth birthday, my gift to myself was to embrace my curves and be comfortable in my own skin. Years later, my friend still has the self-confidence she gained that Spring and to this day I rock my plus-size fashion with the sexiest of them. In other words, we can do this forgiveness thing and have it stick.
First, don’t resolve to change any specific, outward thing. Habits, patterns, actions, addictions can all wait for a bit. Second, forgive yourself for not having changed those habits, patterns, actions or addictions yet. You aren’t a failure. Whatever it is, we aren’t bad people. Not at our core. The forgiveness really can be the action this year.
Because here’s what happens - once we’ve forgiven ourselves, we can start to see ourselves as people worth being healthy. Physically. Emotionally. Worthy of not self destructing. When we feel worthwhile, any change we make is more likely to stick, even on a random Tuesday in March. Especially on a random Tuesday in March.
Okay, yeah, this got a little touchy-feely. But you want the truth? I believe every word of it. I believe self-forgiveness is one of the greatest resolutions we can make. I believe we are more likely to make the changes we need to make when we like our core selves first. So, if you have to make a resolution in 2011, try this one.

Those are Pobble Thoughts. That and a buck fifty will get you coffee.


truenorth said...

Hello Pobble. I've not stopped by your place in quite some time. To be honest, blogging has not been on my mind much and it kind of surprises me to be here at this moment. I do want you to know, however, that I'm so glad I stopped by. This is the most powerful thing I've read in awhile and a much needed, thought provoking, reminder. For that I thank you. Peace.

p.s. I've missed you. :-)