Time and time again, people will create these awesomely amazing resolutions like this year I will get rich, I will be organized, or I will lose weight–only to lose sight of their goal after a month of not quite being on track with it. It can be overwhelming to state goals in such broad, sweeping terms. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be rich, organized, healthy and the like; but those things are just dreams if they aren’t broken into more concrete steps toward your goal (“Dreams are goals with deadlines”).
I like to make different kinds of goals. I think inner health is just as important as physical health, wealth, or anything that’s found on the “outside” of ourselves. I like the concept of Kaizen–constant, never-ending, self-improvement. I think if you’re healthy on the inside, the outside just kind of falls into place. Your physical body reflects what’s going on in your head. Your finances reflect to some degree how your self-esteem and confidence are. Your relationships reflect your inner spiritual, emotional, and psychological health.*(see below for my thoughts on Parental Alienation and relationships with targeted parents)
Here are some examples of inner health resolutions:
- I resolve to not speak badly of others when they are not there to defend themselves. This is a resolution that I find is so honoring of all the relationships you have in your life.
- I resolve to look at conflict through the eyes of love and not fear.
- I resolve to be around people who lift me up and who don’t put me down.
- I resolve to forgive those who have harmed me.
- I resolve to do one new thing a day/week that is out of my comfort zone.
- I resolve to look for solutions instead of complaining about something.
- I resolve to stand up for myself if someone is being aggressive (emotionally, psychologically, or physically) toward me.
- I resolve to be authentic in my thoughts, words, and actions.
- I resolve to look at the blessings in my life and not be distracted by the deficits.
- I resolve to get acquainted with my values and to live by them.
- I resolve to pay attention to accolades, compliments, and praise about myself–and to respond to it positively (even with simply saying “Thank you.”).
- I resolve to be more positive in my self-talk by becoming aware of how damaging the negativity can be for me. Start a practice of gratitude or affirmations to fill your mind with “good stuff.”
- I resolve to nurture my body with good nutrition. Taking care of your body means taking good care of you–this affects your inner health because you are investing in your worth. And, good nutrition makes you feel better and gives you more energy to perform at your best.
- I resolve to show up to whatever is going on in my life with a good attitude and good effort.
- I resolve to recognize that nothing or no one is perfect.
- I resolve to look at things as neither “right” or “wrong” but as effective or ineffective–Is that effective for living a good life–for me? Never mind about another person being “right” or “wrong” unless it affects the quality of your life. It’s amazing how much judgement can affect your life. If you’re going to judge someone, it’s always better to be positive. And, not to do it in a gossipy way (see #1).
- I resolve to have a plan for my life–with goals written down, and dreams to hope for. I resolve to have and live in hope.
- I resolve to communicate better with those around me by using I feel _________ because I _____________ statements. Keep it about you and how it affects you–don’t make it about the other person.
- I resolve to be more compassionate with others. You don’t have to take crap from others (see #3 and #7), but if someone is having a bad day there may be a lot more to it than you realize.
- I resolve to contribute more. Life is a give and take experience. We all know someone who takes too much. Be the person who gives, who can do that with balance (meaning they know when they are giving too much), and who gives freely with no strings attached.
- I resolve to feed my mind with positive things–like reading, watching tv, and the like. I will avoid negativity as much as possible (bye bye People and TMZ).
As a lifelong student of psychology (and marriage and family therapy!), I will always be learning. I guess that’s a good resolution too! My theme this year is LOVE. I hope to have it imbue every single thing I put out–from my energy, my blog, my work, my relationships, my actions, and my intentions. I’m reading Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love” right now while simultaneously plowing through abundant Marriage and Family Therapy course work. A few weeks ago I found myself in a predicament. As I grow and learn, I am experiencing less tolerance for people who mistreat me. There’s a difference between people having a bad day and others who make a habit out of it and take it out on you; people who own their behavior and take responsibility for it and those who blame me for their thoughts, words, and behaviors. So my theme is love and simultaneous to this I’ve had people in the periphery of my life “acting out.” I’ve had to set some really strong boundaries about how I want to be treated. I’ve had trouble reconciling wanting connections with others and knowing I risked losing those connections if I spoke up for what I needed. Should I suck it up to keep the peace? I took a risk, asserted myself, and I lost the connections (and then one person just completely went off on me–which I didn’t even respond to because it only perpetuates the conflict and because it was so incredulous it didn’t even warrant a response–it was meant to bait me). Loss is a predominant theme in my life, but I realized I am no longer willing to sacrifice my self–and the value and love for myself–to keep the peace. I am worth it. I am valuable enough to stand up for myself even if it means I lose a connection with a friend or family member (they are choosing loss as well). I recognize that the old methods that used to work (in this case, attack then withdraw) aren’t conducive to healthy relationships–how could it be? It doesn’t make you look better by putting someone else down. Additionally, by banding together it doesn’t necessarily mean your opinion is correct just because there’s more people who share it. It’s easier to see dysfunction when you’re removed from it, centered and grounded, around healthier people, and/or learn about it. I have to share this: Every time I pick up Marianne Willliamson’s book “Illuminata” on prayers, it creates havoc in my life. Really. It’s like my relationships and life experiences get turned upside down. What the hey? So I recently came across her saying that this is known to happen and it is spirit in your life shaking it up a bit to get rid of old, ineffective ways of being to make room for more powerful, loving, and effective ways of being. When I heard this, I sighed. It was like “Oh! That’s what’s going on!” My lesson: Don’t resist the change; allow it. And keep reading the prayers.
It’s great to have colleagues, co-workers, friends and family in your life. It’s not so great if you are in relationships with others that aren’t healthy and honoring, and are instead dysfunctional. You deserve to have quality relationships in your life. As you grow, you may find yourself facing some of these issues as well. The quantity of your relationships may suffer, but the quality of your relationships, as you work on yourself, goes way, way up! It’s a reflection of how you’re feeling inside about yourself.
By the way, it is not good to use email or a letter as an outlet to provide your thoughts and feelings about the other person or the experience that’s going on for you. Things can get misconstrued, taken out of context; or things can be written that you really wish you could take back later. It is always better to talk to someone via the phone or face-to-face if you can. And instead of talking about your issue with that person with others, building it up and having it take on a life of its own; it’s always better to talk about what’s going on for you with that person–that’s honoring and respectful of your relationship.
I read somewhere recently that all conflict is is a power struggle. Do you agree?
*As someone who’s experienced Parental Alienation, it is all too easy for the alienator, some therapists, lawyers, judges, friends, and family members to point the finger at the targeted parent and say it’s their fault their kid doesn’t have a good relationship with them. WRONG! I do think there is a dynamic when there is an alienation campaign when the “tainted” child becomes activated around the targeted parent–the targeted parent can react to the child in an ineffectual way creating more distance–something they didn’t want in the first place. Unfortunately, being frustrated with the child’s lack of respect, love, and caring can snowball into even more animosity from them. Then, the alienator and others claim: “See, they don’t get along–my ex is not a good parent to them.” It just validates the alienator’s distorted image of the targeted parent and the alienator, in turn, will validate that to the child. Keep in mind: Even kids who are abused want a loving relationship with their abusing parent. I also think that when parents are rejected by their child or they are estranged from them for a while, it can create distance in a relationship. This takes time to heal. We shouldn’t be judging anyone, just getting the child–and the parents–the professional help they need to get the child reconciled with their parent.
This parental dynamic–where the kid is aligned with a parent, with the targeted parent having less power than the both of them–is detrimental to a child’s emotional well-being. This type of unhealthy dynamic is exacerbated by the alienator’s words and actions. Which reminds me of what they say in Catholic Church: “Just say the words and I shall be healed.” Alienators: Just say and do positive things when it comes to your ex and watch your kid have a change of heart about the other parent (your words must match your behaviors; and it has to be from now until always–not just a one shot deal. It can take a while for poison to leave a body).