Thursday, December 31, 2009

Live 2010 Like You Want To

By Bill Callahan, M.D. 

It’s that time again.  Big balls dropping, toasts given, resolutions given and many broken.  We are on the eve of a New Year. I look at a resolution for change, whether on January 1 or on any anniversary, as a battle between the healthy part of me that is for change and courage, and the destructive part of me that wallows in ruts and familiar patterns.

A careful review of our behavior over the past year allows us to see the thoughts, actions, and fear that causes us to retreat into familiar patterns with known results.  We can predict, if we are honest with ourselves, how we talk ourselves out of change, and perhaps berate ourselves after we get disappointed.  This hopeless pattern does not need to continue.

I find when I set out for my three mile run in the dark at the end of the day, that there is a point just before a mile where my mind and body scream out with every reason to give it up (just for today they tell me) with all kinds of legitimate reasons to postpone, and yet when I make myself persevere there is a powerful euphoria related to the genuine side of me winning over the part that wants to quit and postpone.  We all have the chance to strengthen our healthy side and weaken the self destructive parts of us.

A few ideas that I use to keep resolutions for change, at New Year’s or any anniversary that matters to me:

1.      1. Do set goals.  The focus of our minds makes a huge difference.  Take a look at the movie What the Bleep Do We Know to get a glimpse into the untapped potential of the human mind and spirit.

2.      2.  Catalogue the ways you talk yourself out of change, postpone and procrastinate so that you know the enemy parts of yourself and their maneuvers.  Every time you stop one of them it’s another win for you.

3.     3. Pat yourself on the back for successes, but don’t reward yourself by undoing your gain (spending money if you are reigning that in, eating excessively when you wish to lose weight).  Speak honestly to yourself when you have given in to your destructive side but without berating yourself.

4.     4. Learn to talk in terms of what you want and will do.  Remove the words should, need, have to, can and can’t from your vocabulary.  This language reinforces obligation, which can cause a  knee-jerk stubbornness, and the helpless part of our character.  These parts are not our friends.

5.     5. Remember, when waging war for your independence, there will be many battles.  You simply need to win more than you lose, and you can do that.

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