Nonviolent alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions

GP hh cartoon list or menu to the sideTrying to work in early January is hard enough without the ubiquitous “New Year, new you” slogans.

I feel very sad about people getting bombarded with this message in January. It plays on a sense of guilt about resting and overeating during holidays. It bullies people into self-defeating self-improvement programs.

Have those worked for you much before?

If, like for the majority of people, your New Year Resolutions don’t last the month, what would be a better use of your energy this time?

Yes, many people will still, innocently, take on the “new you” January routines whether they lead anywhere or not.

Many people will rebel against it all with even more holiday spending. Ouch!

Is it even possible to tune out of the chase for external shoulds and use January to tune in with what your life is asking you for next?

What would you discover if you took some time to better understand your needs?

What if you slowed down action and first invested in reflection?

What would you learn about creating life change that works for YOUR life?

Time to take violence out of the tradition

It may sound like a strong statement but I believe that New Year resolutions, as they are commonly undertaken in the west, are unintentionally violent.

You may think so too if you pause to consider that people take on BIG lifestyle changes without preparation or support, at the darkest, coldest time of year and soon after days of overeating.

I accept the overeating part may be just me 🙂

But surely, it must be possible to experience self-renewal in a kinder and longer lasting way?

Kinder considerations

Because the resolutions ARE about self-renewal, right?

Here you are after the holiday, returning to whatever is work in your life again.

The calendar says it’s a new year and the media amplify the message.

No wonder your mind thinks it’s time for renewal.

Yet there is also the reality of where your body and nature all around you are at this time of year…

When you pause and listen to what it’s actually time for this month, what do you notice yearning for, deep inside?

Your mind may well pick up the external expectation to jog, diet or kickstart something.

But what does your inner compass say?

Mine, I’ve noticed for several years now, longs to pause, be with and deepen something at this time.

Nonviolent alternatives

So how do you heal the rift between what you naturally long for in January and the violent “should-ing” the general culture is still suggesting for this time of year?

A clue I love is in “gentle power”.

When this phrase first came to me as guidance, I discovered that it was already used online to refer to sustainable energy.

Yet, until very recently humanity saw violent exploitation of resources as the only way to support life.

We thought we had to accept the misery and deaths of miners, for example, and effort as they did, for human progress.

That old way of thinking glorified sacrifice and pushing and believed them essential.

But those blessed to live in twenty first century are learning that energy is a renewable resource and that violence is no longer necessary for progress.

Starting this year,  you can do things gently and sustainably.

How will you manage your energy this year?

When you think about it, self-renewal is not a rocket science. Common sense or any wise parent will tell you to:

  • eat less sugar (and more vegetables)
  • sit about less (and move and breathe more)
  • judge less (and empathise more)
  • push less (and co-operate more)
  • stress less (and recharge more)
  • check you live within your means.

The question is not what to do but how to do it sustainably.

Will you try to push for improvements, believing struggle to be “necessary”?

Or will you trust yourself to first listen and prepare so that you learn a bit more how you can renew energy as elegantly as the wind or solar panels do?

If you can get to Bristol on 9 January, 2016 you can explore energy renewal with me, in a small, gentle group.

If you appreciate learning by reading, here’re two book recommendations to inspire your energy renewal for the new year (linked to Amazon pages if you want to look them up):

1. “On form. Achieving High Energy Performance without Sacrificing Health and Happiness and Life Balance” 

2. “The Language of Emotions. What Your Feelings are Trying to Tell You”

Gently go where no old thinking has gone before 🙂