by Carla Camou
How are you doing with all those New Year's resolutions? If you are like most people, you left them back about mid-January and are now attempting to forget that you ever made them. It is an interesting process that we tend to put ourselves through. We use "special" dates to mark times for making major changes in our lives. We start into them with the best of intentions and the greatest hope. The first few days, when we actually manage to stick to them, are exhilarating.
Then the decline starts. Maybe it's one little slip, one day of not exercising, one chocolate, one cigarette, or maybe we revert back to the self we were before the "special" date all at once. It's not unusual, not even unexpected. We've done it before. The sad part about it all is what we do to ourselves after the resolution is broken. We make some sort of judgment about how weak or undisciplined we are. We get down on ourselves, discouraged; in short, we lose a little faith in ourselves.
By not checking in with that aspect of me that would rather do something other than exercise, I've set up an internal battle.
Most resolutions are hard to keep. It's not because we lack self-discipline, not because we are weak or inherently bad. Most of the time, what makes a resolution hard to keep is how it is made. A resolution is a firm decision to change our behavior, to do something different. Resolutions are generally made because we don't like something about ourselves; the side of us that doesn't like something makes the resolution.
The key here is that the side that likes being the way we are is never consulted. For instance, I'd like to exercise a little more. (At least part of me wants to exercise more!) I make the resolution that I'm going to exercise a certain amount. By not checking in with that aspect of me that would rather do something other than exercise, I've set up an internal battle. I've set myself against myself, and have no way to really win.
If I work really hard, if I use all the personal growth tools I know, then maybe, with a little divine intervention, I'll be able to keep my resolution. Even then, that aspect of me that has goals other than exercising loses. Eventually, if that aspect of me is not respected, the battle to keep the resolution will wear me down, so that even if I keep the resolution, I won't feel as good inside as I'd hoped I would. There will still be a divide within me.
What does work is when I uncover the disagreement inside and find a solution that is acceptable to both sides. Once this is done, the actions to support the decision become natural and easy. There is no suppressing other desires in order to do what I want. When I eliminate the need to battle myself, I have more energy to focus on what I really want. The trick is getting to a solution that doesn't create an internal battle.
The typical ways of changing behavior include self-talk, discipline, and motivational rewards, but when there is an internal conflict, trying any of the typical ways just increases the intensity of the battle. Therefore, a model that works with and mediates the seemingly different internal desires, such as NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), provides a gentle way to find a congruent solution, since it does not involve making any aspect of us wrong or bad.
True resolution is knowing yourself well enough to see how each aspect of you is trying its hardest to work in your favor. When you reopen the lines of communication and feel the battles among your various aspects, self-sabotaging behavior melts away and you begin to feel whole again. Isn't that really the heart of any good resolution?
Carla Camou is an NLP Master Practitioner and is NLP Health Certified. She has a private NLP practice in Seattle and does customized training for organizations. She can be reached at (206) 362-2412.