I could say: I’m going to eat more vegetables, have more patience, try on extroversion for size, finally submit my poetry book, stop swearing like a sailor, be more charitable, start composting, grow my own garden. I could say all that, I could do all that, but I wouldn’t mean it.
I’d be my new and improved self from January 1st to January 5th and then I’d revert back to my old ways, because, it’s a false resolution made from the judgments and expectations of my ego, not from the sincerity of my heart.
For instance, I am not an extroverted person, so resolving to be one is not organic, nor sustainable. I have to be realistic of my capacity and accepting of who I know myself to be, at the root.
Inflicted resolutions are a coup against my core. They are rarely successful and end in resentment and regression.
Effective, long lasting resolve sprouts from the inside out, on a random Wednesday, when I have the option of losing my temper, but I don’t. I walk away, instead of trying to prove myself right. I find patience in the situation. It feels good to do that, so I do the same thing the next time I experience discourse, and the next time, and I arrive a year later embracing a new pattern, unaware of when or how it happened.
Resolutions happen slowly and all at once, have you noticed? I’ll give you an example:
One day, a couple of years ago, I started swimming again, just a few laps. I was drowning in depression and I needed to do something, but I didn’t know what. My boyfriend took me to the pool. He thought it would help. It felt good being there, by the water and even better when I got in, so I kept doing it.
A few months later, I joined a club with a pool. I bought a swim cap and some good goggles, not the cheap ones. A couple of months after that, I decided I wanted to learn how to breathe bilaterally, so I studied videos on YouTube. I practiced and practiced until I trained my head to turn from side to side. A year in, I bought myself fins, paddles and a kick board. I sat in the lounge chair day after day (post swim), observing the swim team as they did their drills. I’d get in the pool the next day attempting to mimic their movements.
Slowly and all at once, I’ve worked up to a mile to a mile and a half almost daily. I never enter the pool begrudgingly. I’m excited, every time. I can’t wait to get in. I love it, and I don’t foresee ever stopping, because, I never forced it; I still don’t. If I had, I wouldn’t have stuck with it.
The foundation of any resolution is surrender. Releasing the grip, simultaneously being aware and available to the opportunities that present themselves, and choosing the opportunities that are right for me, based on how I feel when I experience them.
If being less combative feels better than fighting, I’ll do it more often than not. If swimming lightens my thoughts, best believe I will jump in that pool whenever I have the time; I will make the time.
Instead of making resolutions, I’ve learned to experience as much as I can, while prioritizing the people and the things that accentuate me, help me settle into my skin and welcome me into a life of meaning, worth living.
I remember that first time back in the pool. I could hardly get out of bed that day. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t socialize. I couldn’t do anything really, but I could get in the water and move my arms and legs, submerge myself crown deep and listen to the liquid silence.
That I could do.
That was enough. With each stroke, I became stronger. I could think again. I could write again. Everything in my life shifted, because, I didn’t force it. Swimming became a priority based on how it made me feel.
I followed my gut.
It happened slowly and all at once—I resolved the depression by doing what felt right.
I hope you will do the same. Please, don’t be so hard on yourself. Be sincere. Listen to what you feel–your feelings will not deceive you. Trust them. Do more of what you love and leave behind all the stuff that drains you. Spend more time with the people who love you and let go of the ones who don’t. Most of all–be yourself; life will meet you there.
Happy New Year.