I used to be a self-improvement junkie. I could frequently be found in the book store, eagerly scanning the psychology section for a title that would solve all my problems.
You Can Heal Your Life -- yes, please! Mind Over Mood -- I need that! How to Stop Worrying and Start Living -- that's me!
I was desperately seeking a cure -- an answer to everything I believed was wrong with me. But I wasn't broken. I was never in need of an anecdote. My only real ailment was a lack of self-acceptance.
New Year's resolutions are a perfect example of this attitude. My list used to be pages long. There were more aspects of myself I wanted to change than keep. Lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, be more outgoing, be a better friend/daughter/writer, volunteer more -- you name the cliched resolution, and I made it, one year or another. They all echoed the same sentiments: Do more! Be better! Change!
It's normal and healthy to have habits we want to break and goals we want to achieve and skills we want to learn, but that's different from believing we're fundamentally wrong or screwed up or not enough just as we are.
I'm not suggesting any of us abandon the desire for self-improvement -- I'm suggesting we embrace acceptance as fertile ground for growth and change. Without it, we're stuck in a cycle of negativity and self-rejection, and as many of us know from experience, that goes absolutely nowhere.
Making a list of all the areas in which we think we're inadequate is the opposite of self-acceptance, and that's no way to start a new year. Hence why, in my opinion, New Year's resolutions tend to be resounding failures. They've become just another way to catalog our flaws. Most of us have done enough of that to last a lifetime.
So how about this. Instead of the same old list you probably roll out every year, what about adopting one overarching new resolution? To stop making resolutions. Screw them. Screw the idea that you need to be different.
In their place, what about making a list of all the amazing things about the concluding year, and about you? Why not celebrate all the things you DID do, instead of the things you didn't? Why don't we all put our attention on what's right, instead of on what's wrong or missing?
When we accept ourselves and our lives just as they are, right now, we come from a place of immeasurable power. THAT'S how we want to start the new year -- with acceptance, strength and love. Then we can celebrate 2014 by leaving the old behind, and jumping into the new, full of peace and gratitude for all that was and all that will be. We can ring in 2015 loving ourselves just as we are: perfectly imperfect.