The main holidays have passed by and there’s only one left, the holiday that makes people hopeful and determined to change their lives: New Years Day! I’m not sure why this particular day was chosen as the beginning of the year, but it has and we often make promises to ourselves and others about how we’re going to change for the upcoming year. Commonly, the promises involve change in behavior — doing more of or less of something. But when it comes time to keeping these promises, we sometimes give up when it gets hard to keep the promise. At that point, it’s not really a promise that we’ve made at all; just a mild suggestion to ourselves. It can be discouraging if we keep having resolutions and then not following through with them, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t change that pattern from this point forward.
One of the things that keeps people from making changes in their lives, even if we know that the change is necessary and will improve our lives drastically, is FEAR. It’s not necessarily rational that we fear positive change, but we do anyway. For example, if we want to lose weight, we have to give up some things in order to get the desired result. It’s not so much about giving up particular foods themselves that invokes fear, but relinquishing the status quo. Even though the status quo may be uncomfortable and unhealthy, it is familiar. And we like keeping our equilibrium, even if it hurts us.
How many times have you made a suggestion to a friend, saying something like “Hey, why not giving up doing drugs/drinking too much/going out with mean people/etc?” only to have them say, “Yeah, but…”? We are afraid to give up what we know because we like to be in control of things. And what could be more out of control than trying something new? We don’t know in advance how it will be to weigh less, date someone kinder to us, go to a party sober, or exercise on a regular basis. But when you think about it, how much of life can really be accurately predicted anyway? Perhaps it’s not control that we’re clinging to, but the illusion of control.
This year I invite you to consider what will happen if you don’t make the positive changes you promise yourself. How will you feel if you keep doing what you’ve been doing all along? Is that picture scarier or less scary as what you’re proposing to change? How much do you want the results of the changes, and how much do you want the results of not changing? Play a movie of each outcome in your head, with you as the star. Which feels better to you? Which feels worse? What are you willing to do or experience in order to have the “better” movie? I hope that you can use this idea to get very clear about what you want and make sure that your actions are influenced by realistic factors. Fear of death, disease and pain make sense to me; fear of the unknown is based on a nebulous construct of our own imaginations. We make the unknown scarier than it has to be. Don’t let fear push you around this year.