With the holiday season underway, many people are starting to think about what their new year resolutions will be for 2012. Surely by the end of December you will be asked “what’s your New year’s resolution?” This longstanding tradition, while created with the harmless hope to inspire the masses towards self improvement, usually does nothing more than foster feelings of guilt and shame. If those unpleasant feelings are not enough, later we will talk about the other inherent side effects embedded in this tradition that dates back to 153 B.C.
If you are familiar with some of these notions, you probably have also noticed that from January 1 until about January 8, you see all sorts of new faces out running the streets and at your local gym. You likely also have noticed that within a couple of weeks, these faces slowly start to disappear. As we talked about in an earlier article, change is a process that occurs when someone has made the decision to change, usually when the consequences of not changing outweigh the consequences of changing. The idea that change will occur because the calendar says it is the day you will change is a falsity at best. The danger of this kind of magical thinking lies within the outcome. If the resolution does not stick, often the person is left with feelings of guilt, shame, and the false belief that they have failed. Our unconscious minds file this experience away and it begins to cultivate a negative association with creating change.
There are also other problems, as stated above. To illustrate, let’s use the example of the person who decides to give up chocolate for a new year’s resolution. The decision to do so provides the person, and more importantly the person’s brain, with the ability to rationalize an increase in the behavior without feeling guilty for the days leading up to January 1. Anyone who can relate to this can relate to thoughts such as, “I might as well eat as much as I can now, because in a few weeks I will be giving this up all together.” The increase in chocolate consumption will compound the above feelings of guilt and shame when the resolution is not successfully fulfilled.
Please do not confuse this with the thought that making behavior changes is bad, making change is a positive way to take control of your life. The thought that everyone across America will be ready to make a change on January 1 is wherein the issue lies. If you want to make a change and you feel ready, don’t wait for your calendar to say “go”, start now.
For more info on the origins of New Year Resolutions, please visit, http://ezinearticles.com/?The-History-of-New-Years-Resolutions&id=245213