Every New Year’s Day, millions of people wake up hungover (often next to someone who is coyote ugly from that party they went to the night before) and think that they are actually going to be more successful in changing everything they hate about themselves than they were the year before. With a heavily laden head, they make mental lists of all the things they are going to cease doing. Oh people vow to give up all manner of bad habits from smoking to overeating to not exercising to bad love relationships to tacky style choices, only to be right back doing the same things by Valentine’s Day! The reason is simple. You have to prepare and clear your Life for change. Read on for some steps you can take to improve your chance of keeping this year’s resolutions.
1. At the risk of sounding cliche, remember to Love Yourself.
You cannot change any habit if you allow yourself to mentally beat yourself up over having it. Why, some people spend the whole day mentally criticizing themselves over one perceived flaw or another. STOP! You are who you are – a perfect reflection of the Highest Being (whether that is God, Allah, the Tao, or simply Source energy for you.) God is Love and so are you. So stop knocking yourself.
2. Realize that you, and you alone, are creating your own Life.
Everything around you is a manifestation of your own conscious or unconscious, negative or positive desires. I know. This is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow, especially when things are not going so well. This year with the death of my Mother and now a fight for my apartment, it was initially very hard for me to acknowledge my Life as my own creation. However, doing so allows you to live in optimistic Hope instead of negative fear. When you combine the belief that you are loved by a Higher Being with the knowledge that you are creating your own reality, instead of a directionless victim, you become a fearless Creator of your existence and all things are possible. Recognize that you may want to re-create everything and everyone around you. This year, I realized that there were a whole slew of people and habits that were bad figments of my imagination from my alcohol-laden days. I didn’t mourn their leaving. I know that they had to go. Because I created them while in a negative vibration that I am no longer on. Take the reins and steer your Life to where you want it to be. If that means stripping away everything, so be it. You got to make room for the more positive new.
3. The best change happens one thing at a time.
Many people end up not keeping any of their resolutions because there are just too doggone many of them. Years ago, I would make these long ass lists – I’m gonna quit smoking, quit drinking, start exercising, stop being cluttery, find my soulmate, make tons of money, change the universe and save the world – all planned for one year! However, this never works. Choose one thing to change and give yourself the time to change it, however long that is. Some habits take longer than others. Quttting smoking took me years. I was one of those smokers who was always trying to quit. When I finally did, I had to give myself months of acupuncture treatments and herbs. Fortunately, quitting alcohol was not as arudous. But for the first year, I had to always have non-acohololic beers with me, in the event that I got tempted. Now, two years later, I take them if I want one but they are not the mandatory sobriety security blanket that they were. So each bad habit has its own shelf-life and you just gotta let yourself play its termination out on your own time. I highly recommend Laura Day‘s book “The Circle”, which will help you focus on changing one thing in your Life at a time.
4. Recognize that the “bad” habit is part of your Life journey then release it.
Initially, when I looked back on the 20+ years that I was destroying my body and psyche through drinking, smoking, and bad love choices, I was angry at myself. But now I realize, that for whatever unknown reason, those bad habits were a part of my Life’s journey. And once you grow in one area, you can build from there. For example, having kicked both drinking and smoking, this year I plan to start exercising. Again, Life is a voyage. Allow yourself to recognize what you want to change, embrace it as a part of your Life story, and then release it. And watch the words you put out over anything you want to change. A wonderful medicine man told me that everyone needs to stop saying that they want to “lose” weight or “drop” dress sizes. Because whenever we lose something, we go looking for it. When you drop something, you pick it up. Thus, the message you are sending out to the universe when you say “I want to lose 20 pounds” is actually that you will lose it then FIND it again! It is why so many people, like myself, yo-yo in weight. He taught me that people should declare that they will “release the weight that they no longer need to carry.” Thus this year, my resolution is to release 20 to 30 pounds and fit into my perfect dress size!
5. Only you can change your Life, so get rid of any toxic influencers.
Unless you are one of about 3% of the population that is an addict in denial, you know the things you need to change in your Life and only you can change them. Nothing can derail your efforts to change yourself more than the input of others, so don’t allow people to put their two cents into your change business. This step is vitally important because so many people live their whole lives unwittingly allowing other people, to speak negativity over their Lives. Then they feel so bad about themselves that it totally stunts their growth. You will find that once you stop bashing yourself and make a positive effort to change your habits for the better, a whole host of people usually from your past, will come out of the woodwork to pick up the verbal baton. Often they will try to entice you into continuing the bad habit. I found this out when I first quit drinking. Folks were disappointed that TGATP was no longer gonna be that drunk happening girl at their party. One bartender even lamented “You used to be so much fun!” Yes, I was the life of his party but I was also the death of my own!
Alternatively, people will criticize you for having a habit without supporting your efforts to change it. I recently invited an old friend, who was going through a very tough time, over for a pampering girl’s night in. Unfortunately, instead of allowing me to cheer her up, she spent a good part of the evening pointing out what she perceived as my many flaws. She attacked everything from my home to my job to the spiritualist (that I took her to see in hopes it would help her). By the time she left, I felt emotionally drained. Now, I don’t blame her. She probably thought she was saying things I needed to hear. But fortunately, I recognized that her visitation was an attempt by negativity to plant doubts in my head, make me feel bad about myself, and lead me back to a place I have long ago left behind. Beware of both of these scenarios. To lose that unwanted habit, you’ll have to ignore and possibly, totally lose, the toxic people who make you feel bad or try to keep you in the same place. As my favorite spiritual speaker August Gold recently said, you have to ask yourself, “Is my relationship with this person (or even these people) more important than my happiness and reaching my destiny?” Surround yourself with people who love you and support you, unconditionally. And if you can’t find any, then stay on your own till you do!
6. And finally, spoil and reward yourself!
During both of my at-home detoxification periods for first smoking and then drinking, I had to have constant spa and holistic treatments and I slept a lot. While this isn’t practical for everyone, you simply must find time every day to do something that relaxes you for at least an hour. A bath, a long shower, a walk, anything. Because in order to change a bad habit, you have to feel good. The AA organization discusses H.A.L.T. – hungry, angry, lonely, or tired – the four emotional states that need to be avoided to stay abstinent from alcohol. While designed for alcoholism therapy, avoiding these same states is vital to your well-being and can be applied to all individuals seeking to stay on a positive path towards changing a habit.
So good luck and Godspeed, dear TGATP readers. I would love to hear of your progress with change this year, so make sure to come back and leave a comment!
Check out this great article from Laura Day for New Year’s 2012: