> It’s barely 48 hours into 2008 and I suspect most people have already begun, or will soon be on their way towards, breaking those “resolutions” made for the new year. Why do people feel compelled to make New Year’s resolutions anyway, knowing the unlikelihood of success? And what is it that we could successfully pursue instead?
I think the intent behind grand proclamations of impending, personal change is a noble one. Everyone wants to better themselves and, in particular, cease behavior that’s self-defeating by replacing it with behavior that’s self-affirming. This is an admirable quest. So it isn’t that the intent is wrong, it’s that the premise of how one goes about it that’s awry.
Behavior, and therefore patterns of behavior, are not created in a single moment through a conscious thought to, in fact, create a pattern. Rather, patterns of behavior are the result of repetitive reinforcement of a thought or thoughts that, over time, become a way of thinking that leads to a particular way of doing. We strengthen the muscle of acting, so to speak, by giving repeated thought to a particular idea.
Self-defeating behavior is the result of giving repetitive thought to what it is we fear or do not particularly want. For, you see, the power of manifestation that we all possess by way of our thoughts lacks the quality of “judgment” and, therefore, does not distinguish between what is good for us or bad for us. It simply manifests that which we think about. And since it is very human nature to dwell upon what we lack or do not want, we keep on exercising and building that muscle of thought, getting better and better at getting more and more of what we don’t want. Hence, a self-defeating pattern of behavior is established and sustained.
The solution is not to feed the beast, so to speak.
The “beast”, it turns out, is every thought that’s inconsistent with who it is we really want to be or what it is we really want to achieve. So, the first step is to stop feeding the beast by not giving it the negative thoughts that continuously re-fuel the energy necessary to sustain the pattern. Once you can catch yourself mid-thought and interfere with self-defeating energies, it’s a small leap to substitute a self-affirming thought in it’s place.
I had a heated argument with my husband yesterday and it seemed to take on a life of it’s own to the extent that it consumed the entire day and negatively impacted everything that happened in our family. At days end, laying awake in a separate bedroom…I found myself thinking about all the things about him that made me angry. When I realized that I was “feeding the beast”…but was unable to magically shift my thinking to his positive qualities…I began to think about him as a giant bouquet of poppies and Gerber daisies.
Now if you can just stop laughing, or suspend your disbelief long enough to hear me out, I’ll tell you why and what the net effect was.
I like poppies and Gerber daisies. They’re some of my favorite flowers. They make me happy just to think about them. So, by thinking about them, I shifted my pattern of thought from one of anger and sadness to one of joy and gladness. I en-lightened things up. And, by so doing, not only did I stop feeding the beast of self-defeating thought, I actually lessened the energy charge around those thoughts. Without energy, things…and thoughts are things…cease to exist.
No, it didn’t solve all the problems of the day and no, there is no happy ending (as of this writing) to the argument.
However, what did occur was a step forward in the one-step-at-a-time guaranteed method for reversing behavioral patterns that no longer serve us. It’s not as sexy as a martini in hand at midnight avowing never to eat high cholesterol foods again in the new year…but it’s the stuff real change is made of.
I’ll take that any day because that’s what life is really made of.
Happy New Year.