New Year's Resolutions
It is the New Year. A New Year comes with New Year’s Resolutions, and this year, my resolution is to write an informative, educational, and hopefully enjoyable blog articles for my readers. This is not meant to be therapy via writing, and does not take the place of therapy. Rather, my goal in these blogs is to provide a self-help tool that could provide assistance around daily life issues and common mental health symptoms.
This month, I wanted to share some ideas for how to develop and maintain your New Year’s Resolutions. Perhaps your resolutions this year are surrounding the topics of health, fitness and/or exercise. Or maybe you want to work on career goals this year and finding a way of finally getting that promotion. You may even be considering working on your relationships. Much of what we strive to change in our lives is “external” to us and exists in the outside world. But if we took the time to think about the ways we can actually work on changing the “internal” aspects of ourselves, not only will our resolutions stay intact longer, but these changes will be much more meaningful.
HOW CAN I TELL IF I’M USING EXTERNAL VS. INTERNAL MOTIVATION?
When we think about our personal goals, we want to ask ourselves about the intent of this change. For instance, are you looking to lose weight this year because of social comparison with others? Is it because you have a big life event coming up (i.e., wedding) and have a desire for your appearance to look a certain way? It is important that we make this distinction of the intent behind our motivations and ask ourselves, “Am I doing this for myself because I want to work on my overall health?” or “Am I doing this for others?”
You may have already seen this coming, but our success in achieving our personal goals and resolutions is going to be swayed by our internal versus external factors. And at times, external factors may be more motivating for us in maintaining our goals; however, we are going to acquire more meaning and an understanding of ourselves when we choose to make a change for us rather than for “them.” This is why we want to equip ourselves with our toolbox so that we have a better understanding of how to differentiate between our personal emotional responses, to those responses we have toward others.
WHAT IS THIS TOOLBOX YOU SPEAK OF?
Throughout the year, imagine that you are carrying a toolbox with you wherever you go—especially in challenging emotional situations. And as you go through the year and learn about new strategies, you will continue to add tools to your toolbox. I am not talking about wrenches and screwdrivers of course, but I am talking about coping tools, resources, and relaxation techniques that you can pull from when you need to when you’re feeling emotionally dysregulated, reactive toward another person, or anxious/depressed.
Here are some tools that you can add to your resource toolbox when you find yourself motivated by others rather than yourself:
-Change your perspective -Write in a journal- Talk to trusted people about what you’re feeling or experiencing about a certain topic -When you’re feeling worked up, try to ground yourself with deep breathing -Reflect on your thoughts, emotions and behaviors and ask yourself if you would (prefer/want to) change anything.
In the beginning, this sort of reflection about the self takes time and can bring up a lot of negative emotions. It is important that you find someone trusted to talk to about these feelings whether in individual or group therapy to further explore and find clarification on your thoughts and feelings. Regardless of what your goals and resolutions might be this year, it may be worth your time to understand the intent behind these motives, ask yourself if you are equipped with the proper tools to get to your goals, and learn how to incorporate your toolbox in your daily life for the success and maintenance of these goals. Happy 2019 and best wishes in your personal endeavors.