One Question to Change Your Life Forever
The New Year… A time of resolutions, rituals and excitement for the coming months. We set goals, promising that we’ll finally lose those last ten pounds or eat green salads every day of the week, and yet, by February, most of us have all but abandoned our well-intentioned ambitions in favor of our familiar, but disappointing, routines. Why, despite our best efforts and intentions, do we find ourselves back to our old ways, year after year, feeling disillusioned and frustrated by our lack of resolve? We genuinely want to take care of our bodies, our minds and our hearts, but sometimes it just feels so overwhelming and hard. What gives? Better yet, what can we do about it instead?
Most of us make resolutions that are motivated by shame or feeling not good enough which makes it hard to stick to them. Brene’ Brown, a shame researcher, defined shame as pleasing and/or performing for others. And, to top it off, this pleasing and performing must be perfect. We define perfection and good enough by our manifestations of our efforts. We relentlessly strive for this perfection, always needing more: more time with our family, higher performance at work, a cleaner house, a thinner, stronger body. When we make a resolution based on shame we are setting ourselves up to fail because we are pleasing and performing for other people not ourselves and we abandon our authentic self. An example of a shame-based resolution might be to lose 50lbs before my birthday so my husband will love me more. Here we see that our motivation for losing weight is based on several external motivators including someone else’s opinion of us, the idea that we aren’t okay as we are and fear of not being loved.
The reason we get overweight, depressed, boundary-less, bad with money or any other thing we resolve to change is because we engage in this type of self-abandonment. Essentially, self-abandonment is when we reject, and suppress or ignore part of ourselves in real-time. In other words, we have a desire we want to meet and we make the decision NOT to meet it. This desire or need can be physical, emotional, or spiritual. In our self-abandonment mindset, we believe that our needs and desires cannot be met or should not be met. This leads to a process of detachment as we make repeated decisions to ignore, repress or condemn our personal needs, especially when they are in favor of other people’s needs or wants. The sad thing is, over time, we might forget or lose the ability to identify our own needs as the habit becomes engrained.
Real life example:
Look at your to do list. Is it filled with things to do for others? Do you have place on your list for you? And, how many of those things fill you with a sense of shame, obligation or guilt?
To reconnect with ourselves and our well-being, we can ask one simple question a day that helps to tune us in and take action. Rather than make difficult resolutions we know we won’t stick to or beat ourselves up for, once again, not meeting our goals, we can learn how to have self-trust by taking one small step each day to improve our experience.
The one question we can ask everyday to transform our relationship with ourselves is: What is one thing I can do for myself to feel good today?
If we want to get even deeper, we might also add: What is my motivation for doing it? If the answer involves guilt, shame, fear, timidity, or in any way has a negative emotion attached to it, we might be in abandonment mode.
By asking this one small question everyday, we can begin to take action that feels good, boosts our self-esteem, makes us feel confident and trusting of ourselves and leads us toward our goals without requiring willpower, abstinence or other harsh forms of punishment when we fail at our “resolutions.”
Our answers may change everyday because we are changing and fluid beings, and this is perfectly okay. Some days we may need a good, hard workout at the gym and others we might need to rest and snuggle on the couch with some tea. This question allows for the fluidity and flexibility and helps us get to know ourselves, our bodies and our hearts in a much more intimate way than sticking to self-created, arbitrary rules and expectations that keep us from really knowing and loving ourselves.