Why I'm Not Setting a New Year's Resolution to Get 'Better' This Year


Until recently, I believed New Year’s resolutions were a productive, positive, good-for-my-soul kind of thing. And then I thought of all the one’s I haven’t kept (which way outnumber the ones I have), and I realized I am often setting myself up for failure. I put pressure on myself every day — I don’t need a new calendar year to help me do that. If I want to seriously start trying to lose weight, I could begin today. Although I do think my purchase of four pints of ice cream earlier this afternoon may have derailed me before I even began.

My point is that for some people, it may help to begin January 1 with a plan of attack. When I do that, and reminisce on all my old resolutions that I have broken up with, I get frustrated. And disappointed. And ashamed. My relationship with resolutions is ending now. That doesn’t mean I am going to pick up more bad habits than I already have. It means I am going to try to make better choices when I can, and I won’t beat myself up (or at least try not to) when I fall down. This is all a part of my desire/need to practice and perhaps even embrace “radical acceptance.”

While it might sound easy to some people, the act of “radical acceptance,” which to me basically means to acknowledge reality, is something I have always struggled with, and now I can readily admit it. I always want things to be the way I imagined or thought they should be. I want to rewrite the endings to stories, experiences, relationships — both my own and of those I care about. If I can learn to use this skill, I believe I will be able to move on and problem-solve rather than getting myself stuck. I can say “It is what it is” — which is probably one of my least favorite sayings AND I can know it is OK if I don’t agree with or like what “it is.” Once I quit struggling so much with myself and all of the negative/sad/anxious/etc. thoughts going through my head a mile a minute, I will hopefully be able to start to heal.

I have been working hard towards mental health recovery, but I can honestly say healing hasn’t really happened. I need to radically accept where I am and focus on all I have and all the people who are continuing to rally around me and support me and love me while I am still hurting. I have to radically accept this road may be long and winding, and I need to stay on the path. Speeding to my destination doesn’t seem to be an option, and being an impatient person, it has frustrated me to no end. So here I am, taking a stand, planning to hold myself accountable and to keep starting over whenever I fail, and I am going to start today.

And if I decide to start dieting, writing thank-you notes, exercising daily, cooking more, stop swearing, etc., etc. on February 23 or October 7, I will just do it. I will try my hardest to just keep on trying and radically accept if and when I struggle. Why?

The pressure of the upcoming new year has been getting to me. I have been giving myself deadlines I can’t seem to reach. I really thought at the start of the 2015-2016 school year I would be all better (yes, I was ambitious and not in the least bit realistic). We all know that didn’t happen. Next, I set my sights on 2016. Wrong again. Beginning of the 2016-2017 school year — yet again. I can keep disappointing myself, because that seems to be so healthy and productive (happily I can report that my sarcasm is still in tact), or I can just take it one day at a time. Or even one breath at a time — and radically accept that my journey is my journey. If it takes five more years, so be it (I sincerely hope all my loved ones will continue to be patient with me). If it takes longer or shorter, I will acknowledge that and I will accept it.

I also plan to radically accept that I may still struggle to get to radical acceptance on this issue and many others. I may talk a good game, but it’s a daily struggle. Another quote I am not so fond of and will still use is “Nothing worth having comes easy,” which I don’t always agree with, but in this case will modify to “For me (and many others), peace of mind will only come (hopefully) with extremely hard, time-consuming work.” OK, maybe the other one rolls off the tongue a bit easier. So I’ll leave you with… “It is what it is.”

Wishing everyone a tolerable holiday season (hopefully happy, but if not, hang in there and know you are not alone. Crisis text line: 741741). And if you decide to make a resolution on any day of the year, I wish you the best for success. Now, onto eating some of that ice cream!

Image via Thinkstock.

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