The following is a guest post from Positive Psychology Coach (and our good friend) Leann Harris:
New Year. That time of year where people try and decide if they have lived up to the goals they made 366 days ago and whether they should bother making new ones. The concept of creating New Yearís resolutions is enticing: a year from now we could be a better person than we are right now. Who doesnít want that? Changing my calendar out for another year is a great opportunity to change my life, right?
This thought is tricky. While I certainly have goals I want to reach, itís the way I go about reaching them thatís become important to me. While I certainly was on the ďNew Year, New MeĒ bandwagon, Iíve created one resolution that surpasses all other resolutions and Iíd like to share.
Who Says I Must Change? What am I listening to that says Iím not good enough just the way I am? If I say I want to lose 10 pounds, I need to ask myself why. I listen and try to identify the voice in my head that is trying to convince me I should do it. Is there some old message from long, long ago that doesnít help me anymore running through my head? Is it someone else's voice, or the generic "well everyone thinks so" message? If so, I may ignore it altogether or go to my next measurement.
Will This Change Make Me Happy? I can certainly find the potential benefits to almost any idea that pops into my head. Maybe Iíd like to fit into my jeans better or I think Iíd be "healthier." I can imagine how happy Iíd feel. Wait, but why? Why do I think that changing my weight will lead to more happiness? This happiness measurement is the one that eliminates 99% of my ideas for change. Typically, anything I come up with does not lead to true happiness. They are signs of a sense that "I am not doing enough" or "I should be MORE." If asking myself ďmore WHAT?Ē returns only silence, then I know that this is not a good idea. Using my energy to run away from my feelings of unworthiness or sense of inadequacy does not make me happy. Making strides towards something that feels goodóthat makes me happy and content. Trying to make ourselves feel worthy by being perfect doesnít truly help. Ten years from now I will not look back and congratulate myself for finding another excuse to hide from my own sense of failure. Perfectionism is a false shield we wield to try and pretend we have everything we need when we actually feel the opposite.
Is This Kind? Letís say my idea to lose weight makes it through my first two criteria and I decide to go for it. My #1 rule for this process is to make sure I am being kind to myself and I give myself permission to abandon the idea at any point. This used to make me nervousóisnít that just an excuse to quit? What Iíve found is that NO resolution is worth being cruel to myself, punishing my body, or being mentally exhausted all the time. Kindness is my guide. If I donít know how to be kind to myself and still accomplish my goal, I have a much bigger problem! Perfectly completing my external goal of fitting into clothes is not worth sacrificing my mental health.
What Do I Need? The last thing I ask myself is "what am I really looking to feel?" I donít ignore my urges for change, because something in me trying to get my attention. Most of the time when I feel a need to overhaul something about myself, itís because Iíve been busy and havenít been meeting my own needs. Maybe I need a "me day" where I do whatever I wantóguilt free. Maybe I need a new book (or two) and actually take the time to read it. Maybe itís a massage or a bubble bath. Even if itís only 30 minutes crammed into my day, that urge to change with New Yearís resolutions can be completely transformed into a reminder to practice healthy habits and not add the stress of self-imposed pressure. Accepting that I am worthy enough to take time out of my life to care for myself gives energy and meaning to everything else I do.
So create one resolution for yourself and for all of your New Years to come: be kind to yourself and trade in self-perfectionism for self-care.
Leann Harris has lived with type 1 diabetes for 16 years. As a Positive Psychology Coach for people with diabetes at Delphi Diabetes Coaching, she focuses on the mental fears and emotional challenges of thriving with diabetes. She is passionate about helping others learn resilience skills, counteract shame and blame, and overcome diabetes burnout. Her motto is "Know Yourself, Know Your Diabetes."
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Always consult your physician or other qualified healthcare or mental health provider for advice, diagnosis and treatment of any health-related matter, including relating to diabetes and/or eating disorders. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.