It’s that time of the year. You know. The one where many people, with good intentions, make resolutions for the New Year. Not everyone does it, but, of the ones that do, many drop those same resolutions in no time at all. Then why do people keep doing it? And why do they give up?
Let’s begin with a definition and a little history. First, the meaning of “resolution” is pretty simple: “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” That’s pretty clear on its meaning. Please notice thought that it says, “a firm decision.” Is this where some go wrong? Hmmm…
The history is a little longer and begins in Babylonia some 4000 years ago. It’s said that they were the first recorded people to hold celebrations to honor the new year. Those celebrations, however, were held in mid-March when crops were planted. In a festival called Akitu, that lasted 12 days, they would crown a new king or re-pledge their loyalty to the current one. They also made promises to their gods such as paying their debts, returning borrowed items, etc. and these might be considered the predecessors to our resolutions. Keeping your promise meant gaining favor with the gods for the coming year and, of course, not keeping those promises meant falling out of favor with those very same gods. Something not considered desirable.
When Julius Caesar changed the calendar and made January 1 the beginning of the new year in 46 B.C.E., January had special meaning for Romans. It was named after Janus, the two-faced god who, it was said, looked backward into the old year and forward into the year ahead. Since it was also said that the spirit of this god inhabited doorways and arches, sacrifices were offered to him and promises were made for good behavior for the year ahead.
Even early Christians took the beginning of the year to think about the past year and consider the year ahead. Watchnight services are where Christians prepare by praying and making resolutions.
In today’s world, in many cases. it’s more secular than religious when resolutions are made. Instead of being made to one’s gods, these resolutions are made to oneself to do better in one or more areas of one’s life. Could that also be a factor in why so many drop their resolutions in no time at all?
I think most people who make resolutions have good intentions. On some level, they want to improve their lives, but there is a failure to recognize that there’s a voice, inside our heads, that talks to us all day long. Most of us barely recognize it, if at all. That voice can come from all the hurts and wounds we have received throughout our lives from others and even ourselves. It tells us all the reasons something won’t work, can’t work, is futile for us to even try. It speaks from past experience.
Now, the intention here many be to keep us sage, to keep us from suffering more pain or similar pain as we have in the past. The truth is, we may stay safe, but we’re still longing for positive change in our lives. The only way to get there is to become aware of that voice, counter its message, and take a leap of faith.
When I was learning Energy Medicine, one thing that really struck me was the explanation of why affirmations seemed to fail for some people. Let’s say you started an affirmation to lose weight. For example, “I easily lose weight this year.” (Affirmations are always worded in the present tense.) On an unconscious level (that voice in your head) continues, “but I don’t like being hungry so I end up snacking.” That’s called a “tail-ender” and most of us do it without even realizing we do. These are caused by events, belief, and attitudes we have about reaching a goal that may be hidden from us. This could be the very reason people so easily give up on those resolutions.
What can be revealed by becoming aware of what the voice in your head says to you, in any given circumstance, is where the real work lies. In other words, what your resolution really needs to be about in order for you to reach your other goals. There may be wounds that need to be healed to clear the way for new, positive things to happen in your life.
It’s certainly something to consider in order for you to make resolutions choices, and other choices, where success is more easily attained and giving up becomes a thing of the past.
I, for one, stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. I began to see it as setting myself up for failure and I really didn’t need that. I did begin to see the excuses or “tail-enders” in my thoughts and actions. Although I’m still working on some of them, I decided on a course of action that, for me, seemed more positive. Decades ago, I decided instead to send positive energies out on New Year’s Eve – as the clock strikes midnight – for peace, prosperity, health, and happiness to any who are open to receiving those energies. The only promise I’ve made in years to always do my best. I’ve found that to be enough and quite satisfying. I wish the same for you.