Happy New Year everybody!
In my blog this week I am revisiting a post from 2 years ago, “Radical Intentions for Self-Love”. It was one of the first blog posts I ever wrote and I still believe in the message.
With the New Year comes reflection and projection. We look back on our year and assess how we did, how we felt and what did we achieve and we use this information to dream and scheme about what we want for our lives in the coming year.
I love this process. I am a big fan of learning as much as I possibly can from my experiences. And I am kinda addicted to planning. Seriously. It’s one of my favourite procrastination and stalling techniques for when I am about to launch into something scary and that my heart is attached to. From all of this reviewing and planning we start to develop goals for the next year. And goals can be very healthy and helpful guideposts for how we want to live our lives.
In the loving your body to wellness world, the New Year and the New Year’s resolutions that come with it are dangerous territory. It can seem like everyone around us is setting food restriction and exercise regimen resolutions. It’s tempting to jump on board.
But most of these New Year’s resolutions have been “broken” by January 15. Setting you up to feel like a failure and that’s definitely not my wish for the start of my 2016.
Instead of New Year resolutions, I would like to offer the concept of New Year intentions.
Resolutions are hard. Immutable. Breakable. There isn’t much room to listen to your body’s wisdom. There isn’t much room to respond to the inevitable unplanned and unforeseen events in our lives. There isn’t room to change our minds. There isn’t much room to learn and grow into a different way of being.
Intentions are open. Responsive. Present. They create space for possibility. Intentions are grounded in listening and being present with what is. They grow as we grow. This is not to say that we cannot bring discipline to our intentions. My favourite definition of discipline is practicing what is possible with consistency. And what a beautiful way that is to think of our intentions, practicing what is possible with consistency!
The Power of Self-Love
Taking this one step further, I’d love to suggest that the intentions be grounded in self-love. We may have a desired change that will come from this intention, but does it pass the self-love and self-compassion test?
- Will you be able to listen and respond to your body’s needs?
- Will you experience pleasure as you practice your intention?
- Will you be living in the present moment?
- Will your intention help you find greater contentment and gratitude?
Here’s an example of a Resolution versus an Intention:
Resolution – Stop eating sugar to be healthier
The morning of January 4th it’s a big rush to get the kids to school and yourself back to work after all that time off over the holidays and you begin to feel your holiday bliss slipping away. When you get to the office, your co-worker has brought in some delicious looking treats and after the morning you had you just can’t resist. You feel horrible. You feel like a failure. You ate the “bad” sugary food and now you feel bad.
Result = Resolution broken
Intention – Be more present in the moment so that you are eating intuitively and listening to your body’s needs.
The morning of January 4th it’s a big rush to get the kids to school and yourself back to work after all that time off over the holidays and you begin to feel your holiday bliss slipping away. But on the drive to school and work you remember your New Year’s Intention to be more present in the moment and so you take a deep, slow breath and begin to notice the beauty around you. Your kids. The scenery. The anticipation of getting back to work. And once at the office, still living in the present moment, you are offered a delicious looking treat. Rather than feeling like it is the distraction you have to have after that stressful morning, you get to choose whether you want to eat it. You are not good or bad if you eat it. You just eat it or you don’t.
Result = You immediately feel the benefit of this intention and feel empowered to keep up the PRACTICE.
So take the pressure off with a smaller number of New Year’s Intentions that can be reasonably achieved and still make profound changes in your life. Here are a few suggestions of Radical Intentions for Self-Love!
Radical Intentions for Self-Love
- Let go of worrying about what others think.
Not everyone will like you or always like the choices you make. Stay true to your values and know that you are doing the right thing.
- Don’t “Should” all over yourself.
As in, “I should go to the gym today”. “Should” represents some externally imposed expectation and comparing ourselves to a perceived cultural ideal and can make us resentful of our own imposed requirements to be a “better” person. Instead of “should” statements ask yourself, “What would be most loving to myself right now?”.
- Accept what is.
When we accept what is we allow ourselves to be in the flow with life rather than resisting what is. There are things that we can change about our lives, but often it takes time to make those changes and we have to be patient with ourselves. And then there are the things we can’t change. For both the things we can and the things we can’t change, accepting what is releases us from wasting all that time and energy getting frustrated and annoyed.
- Be in the present moment.
Probably one of the most powerful intentions you could practice. Being in the present moment lowers stress levels, opens you up to more joy, allows you to make better choices, and let’s you see the beauty around you.
What are your Radical New Year Intentions? How will you be practicing great self-love in 2016?