“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” -Hal Borland
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I often set goals or decide I am going to do something, but I against affirming a resolution merely because the calendar flips a page.
I am, however, a proponent of continuously trying to improve based on objective (or one might argue subjective) evidence of things I lack or could do better. I am opposed to the build up and pressure of the New Year’s resolution, because I see how individuals often feel really badly when they don’t meet it. This got me thinking- is the new year simply an opportunity for those who already fight negative thoughts an avenue for self-criticism?
Do any of these sound familiar?
- “Why can’t I keep going to the gym?”
- “Why can’t I quit smoking for more than a few weeks?”
- “I have no willpower.”
- “Why can’t I just stay in school/at a job/with a partner?”
- “Things will never change, this is what I always do.”
- “I already fell off the wagon, so who cares.”
- “I am weak.”
Those who are affected by depression or anxiety are cautioned to watch their thought process, as automatic negative thoughts tend to interfere with self-esteem and mood. During a holiday season which is often stressful, melancholy, or anxiety provoking for many, we tend to cap it all off with a commitment to “fix” all that we think is wrong with us by offering a resolution to the world that we will be better in some way. I can’t really imagine a more perfect storm for someone with a mood or anxiety disorder to engage in a process primed for self-criticism and negativity.
There’s a fine line between stating a resolution to work on something versus drowning in self-criticism or self-hatred. Depression, anxiety, or society in general will always tell you there is something wrong, something to be fixed, and something that makes you unlovable. The truth is, you are whole and completely lovable without losing weight, without switching to a whole food diet and without taking more time for yourself.
I am here to tell you this: there is nothing wrong with you. Improve if you wish. Set goals if you would like to work on something. Get healthier if you feel you have unhealthy habits-I am certainly not advocating that you continue an unhealthy lifestyle. But I do feel the need to tell you that those things are to be healthier, not better. You as a person do not need “better.”
Keep an ear to your thoughts and let someone know if they become too negative, critical, or are affecting your mood. Keep in mind that you can always improve and be healthier, but you do not need to be better. You are already perfect in who you are, and the world needs you. People who love you just want you to be you. Remember that the journey is simply in the going on of things, not because the calendar moves to a new year. We are always moving forward, even when it is difficult, ungraceful, or ugly. We go on.
If you choose to set a resolution, please do not set yourself up for failure. Keep goals reasonable and realistic, practice self-forgiveness, and do not allow one mistake to be a reason to quit or feel badly about yourself. Do it for health, not because you need to be “better.” Do it for you, not someone else. Do it because you want it, and do not allow the voice of criticism to interfere with your goals.
You deserve so much more than that negative voice. Take on your mental health. May 2019 be filled with all that you need to create what you desire.