“I’m Probably the Last Person to Write About New Year’s Resolutions”
by Susan French, Clinical Hypnotherapist
I’m probably the last person to write about New Year’s Resolutions. At my advancing age, which I am finally no longer willing to share, I realized that I gave up making New Year’s Resolutions quite a few years ago. And guess what: I’m happier for doing so.
I did that around the same time that I decided that I was no longer going to be in frenetic bondage to Christmas and other winter holidays. I did that when I realized that my recurring dream/nightmare had been coming earlier and earlier each year.
Let me digress to tell you about this nightmare. Perhaps you can relate. It really does support my original opening topic, which was about New Year’s Resolutions. They are really psycho-dynamically entwined, I promise you.
I used to have this recurring nightmare/dream that it was Christmas Eve at 5:00 pm, all stores closed or closing. This dream started back in the days when stores actually closed at 4 or 5 Christmas Eve. Yep, there was such a time. So there I was, Christmas Eve, at 5:00 pm. All the stores were closing in my face. I hadn’t bought a single present for anyone and I had no money. I would wake up from this dream sweating and gripping.
This dream started when I was around 10, 11, 12 years of age, believe it or not, and continued, but started occurring earlier and earlier in the year. First it was in October for a few years. Then in September, when school started. And on it went until I had one in June. I was a young adult. I still woke up sweating.
Then I started having them more than once a year. One morning, after having one of the last of those dreams, about 7 years ago, I woke up mad. I decided that the Tyranny of Christmas was going to meet its death.
I came to realize that no matter what happened. No matter whose present had not yet been purchased or even decided on, no matter whose present wasn’t wrapped, no matter whose cards I had not yet been mailed, December 25th would come anyhow. Whether I was finished and ready or still running around, Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day. And, moreover, December 26 would follow and no one would spontaneously immolate if I had failed to complete my list(s). The sky wouldn’t fall. There were just a bunch of trash-bags filled with wrapping paper and ribbons.
Whew! I realized that it really didn’t matter. Because no matter what, December 25th came and went, whether I was ready or not. And then, so did December 26, when I started to face the reality of how much I had spent.
So, on to New Year’s Resolutions. I hope you’re still with me. Not long after that epiphany, I realized that the same tyranny was attached to the New Year. I realized that the societal pressure to vow to be “better” than last year was another trap. It was yet another Tyranny of Expectation that I vowed to shed. And so I did.
Somewhere in my head I have a little list. I do. I confess. But I will NOT write them down on some list that I will run across, staring up at me from some cluttered drawer, in March or worse, April, when I’m getting ready to do my taxes. Yuck. Double whammy. No siree. Not me.
I haven’t figured out how to divest myself of taxes and other annoying tyrannies and bondages but I will not make another list of wistful wishes to disappoint myself with.
Instead, I think about the thing or things that I accomplished last year. I give myself a couple of “atta-girls” and simply decide to do more of the same.
You, of course, are welcome to make your lists. For some people, it’s uplifting I’m sure. It’s always good to stand back and assess. Even to regroup and re-think. But to make the same list that I have made every year of my adult life and am still making??? Worst, it seems to be the same plan that everyone else makes, give or take a few items.
The one thing, I will say, that had been on my list for quite a few years that I DID accomplish, was to stop drinking. I accomplished that one. Yay me! Thirty years ago—in July, not New Years. Not that it matters. Thirty years is thirty years. I give myself “atta-girls” for that one.
But, dear reader, if making a list of New Year’s resolutions helps you to assess and regroup, go for it. If it gives you motivation and impetus to move forwards towards your goals and dreams, even for a week or two, that’s a week or two more than you had before.
So, please tell me what you guys think about my way of handling each New Year. Or your own. And please tell me what your plans, goals, dreams and wishes are.
Have a good, happy and SAFE New Year – and beyond.