It’s a New Year and a fresh beginning. We clink our glasses in a toast, play sentimental music and kiss our loved ones holding on tightly. Consequently, we make all kinds of outrageous promises in the heat of the
moment. We resolve to lose an exorbitant amount of weight, exercise daily like professional body builders, climb the highest rung on the ladder at work, do volunteer work, get more involved in our children’s schools and act more considerately to the in-laws. Yeah right! There is a huge interim from January to January. At the first sign of stress, we relapse into our old habits. But why can’t we implement? Is it because at the root of our resolution lies the need to impress others?
Instead of raising your glass high, raise your personal status – immediately. Most of us need accountability and cheer leaders for a change to take hold. This year, how about becoming accountable to yourself? Instead of making resolutions on the spur of the moment, make a commitment to just one goal of self-improvement, for you and no one else. This means you are not losing weight because the media makes you feel fat or that you are doing volunteer work to make an impact on others with your kindness. This year’s special goal needs to emanate from your heart. Interesting, when your goal is internally driven, the accompanying perk is better health.
For example, many women are self-silencers. They do not speak up during a marital spat or ask the boss for a raise. Instead, at the first sign of conflict they tiptoe around the house or the office trying to keep the peace, suppressing their feelings and thoughts. Now if a self-silencer commits to expressing her true feelings, she will improve her health at the same time. The famous ten-year Framingham research study on cardiovascular health discovered this striking fact: Women who kept their feelings to themselves during conflicts had a four times greater risk of dying than the rest of the population. At the very least they were more likely to suffer from depression and irritable bowel syndrome as summarized in the Harvard Women’s Health Watch (Jan., 2008). So, if you are a self-silencer, by making a commitment to expressing your truth in the coming year, you will create better health for both your mind and body as a bonus benefit.
To make sure that you stay committed to your new goal take a weekly inventory to evaluate what is working for you and what isn’t. This way you are avoiding the huge gap of January to January. Sunday night is a great time for evaluation as you are planning out your new week which gives you a weekly opportunity for a fresh start: Happy New Week!
I have a suggestion for this New Year’s – recreate the spirit of your Sweet Sixteen. Here’s a personal example, something I learned from my daughter when she celebrated this rite of passage with ten girlfriends. An hour before we had to leave for the restaurant, my daughter Amanda smiled demandingly, “I need a tiara and we have to get it now!” Thinking she wanted some designer jewelry head gear, I replied, “Who do you think you are, the Queen of England?” “Mom, it costs about $1.50 and you can get it at the party store.” “Oh well, in that case you can have two!” “And Mom, can you get some non-alcoholic champagne and some of those plastic fluted champagne glasses and serve it to my friends outside in the backyard when we return from the restaurant?” At that moment I realized that my daughter knew how to create, direct, get what she needs and have fun doing it. I had a lot to learn from her – and continue ever since.
As per her instructions, I greeted her friends with bubbling non-alcoholic champagne and my daughter made her appearance wearing her pink tiara laughing heartily as she greeted me. Then her eyes opened wide: I was wearing mine – remember I bought two!
Eye to eye, chromosomes recognizing chromosomes, my daughter reminded me to delight in being special – to revive the hidden girl within before I became a wife and a mother; in other words to leave the straight lines of personality. Wearing that tiara made me feel fresh and empowered like a goddess. And with all the giggling, highly energized teenage girls, I realized that I stood amidst a gang of goddesses.
It’s time to try on all kinds of “costumes,” to revive different parts of the self who have gone latent, but still exist. Let’s break the heart-deadening routine and celebrate our progress. As Maya Angelou said, “If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” If we have forgotten how, there are gangs of goddesses out there to show us the way. Here’s to YOU – Cheers!
About Debbi Mandel
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, a stress management specialist and speaker. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York, produces a wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media.
To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com