Often people want to start a new year with resolutions and promises that this one is going to be different. This is traditional and probably a great idea but how does one really commit to and stick to it changing old unhelpful patterns to new ones?
If you are working on yourself and you want 2012 to see you mastering skills and behaviours and changing old patterns for new more functional experiences then this happens when we learn to support ourselves with external and internal support processes and keep challenging ourselves to live life on life's terms through acceptance discipline and self-motivation.
With our evolving selves the truth is that if we keep moving forward, doing the self-nurturing, and self-supporting acts and as we do these things in conjunction with a therapist, a support group or healthy network of friends then we are able to maintain our resolutions. They don't just happen. We need to back them up with supportive structures and strategies that ensure they actually happen.
So we look at first of all what it is that we want to change and if you are in therapy you will have what we might call 'growing edges' these are the issues you know you struggle with and through your therapy you get clear about HOW it is you struggle with these things. Then you make short term medium and long term goals and state simply some reachable targets of what you would like to achieve in these areas. It's best to write then down and refer to them throughout the year. And then you create smaller goals of how you want to achieve the larger ones.
So that's step 1 and step 2 requires that all the while when we are urging yourself on to change your old patterns that you care for yourself in what I call 'win win' ways.
This might take the form of a finding a new hobby or out let – discovering the local library and their CD- collection or self-help collection.
Spending some money on a really different new haircut, spending an afternoon reading in a quiet, beautiful garden, exploring spin class, Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi like you always wanted to, setting up the bath with candles, incense and soft music, splurging on a massage, getting some kinesiology, have a facial, try indoor rock climbing, take a day trip to the mountains, go camping, start a journal, create affirmations specifically tailored to you and stick them on the wall, visit a local tourist attraction that you have never been to before, go to see a theatre piece, join a meditation group or commit to doing it on your own, join a reading club, start playing a new team sport or join a social club, have a colonic or spend the whole day at the day spa.
So in order to work on our internal growing edges we need to identify what they are, how we are going to work on them, we make specific goals of them and then refer to them in therapy, in support groups and to our supportive friends while continually engaging in self- nurturing and self-loving acts. Emotional growth usually involves growing pains and with support and self-care as a constructive reinforcement change is possible.