As we turn the corner and enter into the new year, many of us have begun to fantasize about a fresh start in 2023 – putting behind us the tumultuousness of the past 12 months and looking forward to a clean slate.
Like years past, we allow ourselves to hypothesize about all of the ways this year will be different – habits we will change, behaviors we will improve.
Unfortunately, for the vast majority of us who decide to make resolutions, change does not come easy, and before we know it, we quickly fall back into old patterns of behavior.
Why does this happen?
The truth of the matter is that we romanticize the concept of New Years resolutions – magically gaining the ability to change a lifetime of habits and behaviors because we make a promise to ourselves that “this year will be different.”
It is an incredible amount of pressure that we place on ourselves, and as each year passes with another failed attempt at change, we continue to validate to ourselves that we are incapable of making lasting improvements.
True and lasting change comes from a deeper awareness and understanding of ourselves. Before we can alter a behavior, we have to gain insight into its presence in our lives.
Unhealthy behaviors exist as a way to cope and avoid dealing with internalized turmoil.
Throughout each of our lives, we have found ways to manage stress, frustration and trauma. These coping mechanisms provided some semblance of comfort during an otherwise chaotic time. And although they may have been helpful in the moment, the reality is that these behaviors are unhealthy long term and tend to present as more self deprecating and punitive towards our own mental and physical health.
With the appropriate support, we can gain a greater understanding of what purpose those behaviors serve – what negative self perceptions, thought processes or experiences have occurred that continue to reside within and prevent change.
It is through that practice that we can become better equipped to understand the intricacies of how life experiences have impacted us, to consciously process the adverse emotions attached to them and to then begin to establish healthier, more productive ways to move forward.
Change is a process, not an event. When we become open to that process, we gain the opportunity to self reflect; to better understand the moments that have influenced who we are, to reframe our perspective in order to find more acceptance and kindness towards ourselves, and to begin to find healthier ways to manage adverse emotions.