New Year’s Eve is here. With it come the ads, the articles, and the tips for all the resolutions we should make to become the way popular culture would like us to be. Eat less. Work out more. Buy this product or that. Wear certain clothes. Again and again we are bombarded with the clear message: “you’re not good enough … but you could be if only you’d do this.”
It seems like this should be an easy message to ignore, to plug our ears and cover our eyes like a child at an R-rated movie. But like that child, the temptation is too great. Because as much as we say we don’t want to hear the message, deep down it’s a message that has been playing in our heads our entire lives. The marketers are just telling us what we already tell ourselves.
I spent most of my life believing this was unique to me — that my brain was the only one with a soundtrack of self-defeating messages and thoughts of doom and gloom. But the last few years of self-exploration into my inner workings have taught me differently. I’ve learned these are messages we all hear, demons that live in our psyches put there by a society that values doing over being. The little versions of us were taught we were good when we did this or that and bad when we didn’t. We were chastised for daydreaming, sitting around, and having fun. We were prodded and pushed into winning, achieving, and making “good” use of time. While we wear different clothes, have a variety of jobs, and like to think of ourselves as entirely unique adults, deep inside where the little you and I reside we are the same … tender children who want to be loved and cared for, expressing that desire in the ways we’ve been been programmed.
We spend the year working hard, buying expensive things, and acting and saying exactly what we were taught would make us lovable. Then the holidays arrive and we pause. We leave our jobs and offices behind in one of the few true breaks of the year. We visit our childhood homes, reminisce about the past, and disconnect from the present. In the process we often realize a sobering truth: despite having everything we were told would make us happy, we aren’t. In fact, many of us are experiencing the opposite. We’re sick, stressed out, overworked and under loved, crumbling beneath an ever-growing to-do list trying to be good parents, loving spouses, and responsible workers while neglecting the needs of our own hearts.
The result is that by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around we usually have a long list of resolutions about things we want to change with the hope of being happy. We diligently pencil out our resolutions — goals, timelines, and benchmarks of success. When we’re done our list looks like an episode of an extreme makeover reality tv show. All of this is another message to ourselves that we’re not good enough, broken, and in need of saving … and our inner child weeps silently.
This year I want to invite you to put down the pen and paper, turn off the TV ads, and ignore the articles (less enlightened than mine ☺) listing the ways to optimize and supercharge your resolutions. Instead, make yourself one simple promise … to practice loving yourself. Instead of seeking self-help resolve to engage in self-love. In lieu of working on yourself, commit to accepting yourself … as you are. And as this year fades into the next, join me in beginning this practice. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, place your hands on your heart, and repeat silently to yourself: I am not broken. There is nothing to fix. May I be loved by myself and others … just the way I am.
Big hugs of love,