Even if resolutions fail, we are not helpless or failures.
Whenever we make a resolution or promise, there is part of us that truly wants to succeed! Yet, the key to successful stick-to-itiveness is to get to know the part of us that does NOT want to succeed. “What?” we may be thinking!? Of course I want to succeed and fulfill my resolution to lose 20 pounds, quit drinking, eat healthy and exercise!” However, I’ve found that this is often untrue.
If 100% of our whole heart was on board with our resolution, we would have done it already.
The sooner we accept and work with this fact, the more quickly and effectively we will succeed. So let’s “get real” with yo’ “Bad Self,” as James Brown says. To see for yourself whether you are 100% whole-hearted to succeed at your resolution, ask, “Is there any part of me that is NOT willing to keep this resolution?”
Take time to truly listen to your innermost thoughts and feelings, without criticism.
Feel the sensations in the body. Is there any part that feels irritated? Angry? Frustrated? Unwilling? Unsupportive? Critical? Those are the parts that do NOT want to succeed. Those parts cannot be squashed, denied, forced, ignored, pummeled, punished or made to “go away.” Not even with all the positive thinking we can muster. They will kick our backside. Every failed resolution is proof-positive that this is true. Those parts that do not want us to succeed at our resolution are EQUALLY IMPORTANT and as POWERFUL as the parts of us that DO want to succeed.
What if we discover that part of us isn’t willing to keep our resolution?
We can revise our resolution by asking, “What would it take for me to be “all-in.” Then we may make adjustments as needed. Or, we can create a completely new resolution by answering the question, “What would all of me like to change?” By asking these questions, we can provide some great answers to create new resolutions that work with our current state of mind.
We also need to feel excited about our resolutions.
Whenever we let go of an old habit, it can be easy to focus on what we are LOSING or letting go of, instead of what we will gain. When we quit something, we may lose the solace of the thing we’re quitting. We may lose the quick sex, drugs, and rock and roll that we once relied upon. We may even fall into feeling sorry for ourselves, feeling that we are “missing out” on what we used to do. This type of thinking has led many a person back to the old habit. If instead, we focus on the new things that we will “get” because we quit—such as self-respect, health, the ability to better care for our families and ourselves, we can save ourselves from the heartbreak of failure.
What I did
One of my resolutions from years back was to feel better, and I knew that drinking coffee was holding me back. Though I’m not the woman who carries a carafe with her wherever she goes, I do enjoy the smell and flavor of rich, thick, espresso-like coffee. However, I discovered that coffee caused an acid fireball in my throat. Oh, it had other negative side effects on me too—a growling stomach, headache, anxiousness and heartburn. Although it tasted good and I enjoy its warmth, that’s not reason enough for me to cause myself such pain… over warm, brown water. So, instead of medicating myself with prescriptions to allow me to continue to imbibe coffee and ignore what “my body was telling me,” I said to myself, “okay then, I won’t drink coffee (dammit).”
Even though I SAID I would quit, I still asked myself the all-important question for success.
I asked, “Is there any part of me that is not willing to quit drinking coffee?” And I sensed it inside of me—resistance! I felt a host of signs and symptoms to show me that, no, all of me was not on-board. I felt like a teenager who’d been told that they were grounded. I was irritated and heard myself thinking, “Haven’t I given up enough already? Can’t I have this little pleasure?” And then I laughed a bit, knowing that this “little pleasure” was also causing a significant amount of pain.
Then, I asked a follow-up question.
“What would it take for all of me to be whole-heartedly willing to quit?” I listened patiently for about 30 seconds (which seemed like an hour), and the answer was, “Something warm that tastes good!!” “Is there anything else?” I asked, and heard, “I need to know that life is better without coffee!”
We cannot take something “enjoyable” away (like coffee) without replacing it.
If we do, we run a very high risk of returning to the old behavior. So, to appease the part of me that desired to drink something warm that tastes good, I now drink hot water with a variety of flavors—a slice of apple, lemon, apple cider vinegar, decaf herbal tea, or, hot almond milk with honey and cinnamon or maple syrup with nutmeg or allspice. Quite tasty.
My faith increased.
To appease the part of me that doubted that life would be better without coffee, I chose to pray for faith every time I had a craving, and I asked that any craving that is not in my highest good be released.
Having previously given up things that were MUCH more difficult than coffee—like donuts, gluten, and unhealthy relationships with men who caused significantly more pain than acid reflux, giving up coffee was a breeze in comparison. Over that year, my GI tract healed significantly. Food began to taste better without the flavor of all that stomach acid. The fireball feeling in my throat went away. My stomach quit grumbling, my overall energy improved and the headaches and anxiety became nearly non-existent. Months into the resolution and feeling better, I decided to drink one-half of a small, white Styrofoam cup’s worth of black coffee. Not due to blind craving, but because I sensed that a little bit, for me, would be ok. Please note that having a “little bit” is not an option for people who are addicted, since “a little bit” is not enough. Over the course of that following year, I drank a total of ten, small, white, Styrofoam cups of coffee. And I slowly savored each one.
So, what’s next for me?
Having practiced and succeeded at eliminating multiple unhealthy habits, it makes it easier to look optimistically at the opportunity to succeed again. And knowing life, I will be given more opportunities—for which I am ready and willing to make the best choice.
As I mentor people in willpower and empowerment, I have found that asking good questions, patiently waiting for answers, replacing unhealthy choices with healthy ones, focusing on what we “get from the quit” and prayer have healed many hearts, habits and homes. By utilizing the combination of the “tools” outlined here, my clients and I have kicked some harmful habits and kept our resolutions.
Resolve to be empowered
At the heart of honing our willpower, is the opportunity for each of us to apply it well. Not by forcing ourselves to do things that part of us doesn’t want to do. Not by running from the discomfort of fear. Instead, by focusing and applying our willpower to courageously follow through on what is BEST. When we, BY CHOICE, choose to be and do what is best, regardless of our fears and desires, we are truly great.
Please share your comments below. Let’s learn from and inspire one another!
Always with love,