I’m not writing resolutions for 2018.
It’s not that my life is perfect or that it wouldn’t benefit from a nip or a tuck around the seams.
But, instead of highlighting my imperfections, I want to think about what’s already working. I want to savor the blessings that surround me. Like the fact that my husband and I are both healthy. Or that our marriage has entered its fifth decade, producing two kids who are kind and productive young men.
Resolutions, on the other hand, are fed by dissatisfaction, the things we don’t like about ourselves. For instance, “I wish I were 10 pounds thinner.” Or “My family hates it when I smoke.”
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Odds are good you’ve been struggling with these issues since forever. They’ve no doubt appeared as resolutions in years gone by.
Attempts to excise them remained ineffective. They returned with a vengeance ASAP. Even though you looked in the mirror with irritation, motivation to change was still far, far away.
Unfortunately, most of our psychic energy is spent in self-loathing. We spend hours contemplating our faults. Some of those faults may be impeding our progress. Others are fictitious or externally imposed. Still, they perennially hog center stage. It’s nearly impossible to see through the haze.
It’s that low self-regard that perpetuates the pernicious cycle. When we feel bad about ourselves, we feel unworthy. If we feel like scum, it’s impossible to change.
What if we reversed our priorities and spent more time dwelling on our strengths? Our flaws wouldn’t vacate the building; we’d just box them up and put them in the trunk. We’ll let the capable us make all major decisions. We’ll behave like the competent folks we really are.
Accept each characteristic you view as undesirable and offer it a seat at your psychological table. Welcome it into the personal fold. Stop treating it as if it had cooties.
Meanwhile, kick gratitude into high gear. Notice global blessings (“I have a roof over my head”) as well as the seemingly minute (“I love the smell of rain”). Say “I love you” to your friends and family. Pet your cat and listen to her purr. Stargaze on a cloudless night.
If unhappy thoughts try to sully your lovefest, note their recurrence and send them packing once again. Repeat the process as often as necessary. Negative thinking is a tough habit to break.
If you must make a resolution, keep it simple: “I embrace the good in me and my world.” That should keep you busy for a year.
Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit lindalewisgriffith.com.