As we say farewell to 2017 and all the perceived good, bad, and ugly we may feel has accompanied it, we find ourselves turning to 2018 with a renewed sense of hope, optimism, and excitement. There is an almost electric vibration – a universal pull to release the old and welcome the new. A clean slate, a fresh start, offering us endless possibilities.
New Year’s resolutions are often an extension of this energy – the most common of which are weight loss, a regular exercise program, improved financial responsibility, better self-care, spending time with one’s friends and family, working less or at something one likes more, stopping procrastinating (I’ll talk about that one later if I get around to it!) or some other vow to fix a lack one sees in one’s self.
The problem is that these resolutions often don’t work, and leave people with a sense of failure, guilt, shame, or maybe just apathy – feeling worse than they did before they made them. But that doesn’t have to be the case. There is actually a resolution that you can make that can help you to allow what is most helpful for you to occur naturally.
New Year’s resolutions don’t work for three reasons.
1) The first is because we are seeking to gain happiness from something that is outside of ourselves.
If we weigh less, are in better shape, have more money, like our jobs more, make our relationships better, etc. we will be happier. While that may prove to be true in the moment, it is fleeting.
Whenever we look to the outside world for fulfillment, we are guaranteed to feel unfulfilled.
What we seek to make us feel better on the level of the ego mind that created this world brings temporary enjoyment at best, before our minds jump over to the next shiny object or thing about ourselves that needs to be fixed or improved.
2) The second reason is because in making these kinds of resolutions, we are setting ourselves up by thinking that we have to make it all happen by ourselves.
As soon as we do that, we put the ego in charge. The problem is that that part of our minds does not want us to feel good about ourselves, or take care of ourselves, or be happy. So we start out strong, for a few weeks or months. Then the ego mind gradually starts to sabotage our efforts – it tells us we’re too tired, we don’t have the energy, we deserve to eat that, we’re too busy, we can work out tomorrow, we’ll start meditating next week, we’ll spend more time with our loved ones as soon as work calms down, we just need to go on social media for a quick minute…
A paradox here is that it is also the ego part of our mind that then berates us and makes us feel guilty and bad (for listening to it!) and tells us that we have failed.
This plays into the third reason…
3) The third reason is that on a very deep level we are resistant to making these changes because we actually are resistant to feeling better in the first place.
Why is that?
It is because we harbor unconscious guilt and feel like we don’t deserve it.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work and One That Will
A Course in Miracles tells us that there is ONE problem – the belief that we have separated from our Creator and have to rely on ourselves to make everything happen in our lives – and ONE solution – remembering that the separation never happened.
So all of the conditions in our lives that cause us to make New Year’s resolutions come about as a product of our belief in separation. It is not just that we believe that we ARE separate from our Creator – which we do – it is that we believe we have deliberately separated. Which means that on a very deep and unconscious level we feel like we have done something wrong, and that we are guilty and deserve punishment. We haven’t, but we think we have – and that part of our minds that believes it– our egoic mind – wants us to remain focused on that.
How do we do that?
By keeping ourselves invested in the world, and all the problems and distractions it offers. One way of keeping our attention and attempting to assuage our unconscious guilt at the same time is to punish ourselves in various ways – which tend to coincide with the things we then make resolutions about. We engage in all kinds of addictions and distractions that keep us away from the one practice – the one solution that would then resolve all of the rest.
If we absolutely believed we were perfect, whole, pure, innocent, made of nothing but love; capable of nothing but love, with nothing to feel bad or guilty about, nothing to hate about ourselves or others; if we believed we have everything, that there is no scarcity, no lack or limitation, nothing to be afraid of; if we believed we are taken care of, provided for, and sourced constantly – because we are so deeply, deeply loved and connected to our Creator – we would not seek to punish ourselves in these ways. We would have no need to overeat, shop for stuff we don’t need, go into debt, drink too much alcohol, overwork – or work at jobs we don’t like -let ourselves get stressed out, or disengage from our loved ones.
How you would be if you really believed you are pure light – the Light of the World – radiating love through your mind, your heart, your thoughts, your eyes, your words, your hands – toward others and toward yourself? How would you be different? What need would you have to distract yourself from that? What would you do or not do if you believed that you have a Guide always with you, helping you, showing you the way? If you trusted that this Guide absolutely has your back, and wants nothing but your true joy and complete fulfillment? If you knew that whatever you are inspired to do is what you are supposed to be doing, and that you could not fail no matter what the outcome?
So what is the road to that belief?
It is the only New Year’s resolution you need – it is a practice. I am giving you two activities to download at the end of this blog – one is a ritual for the transition from the old year to the new – to be done on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. The other is a daily practice – one that I do to set up my day – by surrendering it to Spirit.
These activities involve giving up both the belief in our unconscious guilt and the need for self-punishment, as well as the belief that we have to do everything ourselves. These things have to be consciously released or we will continue the cycle of setting New Year’s resolutions and breaking them, feeling like we are failing, believing we are guilty, and riding the not-so-merry-go-round of creating distractions, addictions, and circumstances in which to punish ourselves for what we in reality never did.
We have to get back to the place of believing, and eventually knowing, that we are not, and never could be, separate from God. We are only asleep to that fact, and this ritual and practice will help us to gently reawaken, as we give up the control and allow Spirit to direct us, to decide for us.
We think we know what we should do, what is best for us, how to prioritize things most effectively, what course of action to take – but we don’t. Spirit does, but one of the awesome things about Spirit is that He is not going to interfere with our free will. We have to ask, to invite, to surrender our plan in order to make room for one that will actually work.
If you do the New Year’s ritual, it will help you to begin the year in an energetically different place – like cleaning your house, or decluttering and organizing a room or closet, or giving away possessions you no longer want. It will give you breathing room, space to expand in a new way, a sense of optimism – of something wonderful that is on its way to you.
As you engage in the daily practice, it will keep you grounded, open your heart, and, if you pay attention – help you to trust that you are guided by your Inner Teacher, always. You will find that you feel calmer, more patient, open to plans changing and things working out in ways that although may differ from your idea, actually turn out to be better than you could have imagined. You will love yourself more, as you identify with who you really are as a beloved child of God. You will love others more, as you forgive them for whatever grievances you held – and thus find your relationships improving, and conflict disintegrating. You will be more peaceful, smile and laugh more, finding the humor in things that may previously have upset you. You will find inspiration coming to you – answers, solutions, ideas – which address things you have placed on the altar and released.
In spending this time in communion with Spirit, you reclaim your wholeness, your innocence. You have a sense of assurance that everything is unfolding perfectly – even when it looks like it’s all f*cked up. ; )
Here are the links to download PDF versions of the New Year’s ritual and the daily practice – for creating peace, love, and joy in your life this year:
Thank you so much for being with me today – and for your presence and participation here over this past year. I appreciate your reading these blogs so much, and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to connect with you in this way. I hope that something in this post moves you to make the only resolution you need this year. If so, please share it with a friend, or re-post it. You can click here to share this on Facebook now.
Question: Have you resonated with something in today’s post and video? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE your comments and I promise to read every one.
If you would like to supersize the daily practice I have introduced here, I highly recommend beginning the New Year with the workbook lessons of A Course in Miracles. There are 365 lessons, one for each day, and the Teachers of God Foundation has a great program called ACIM 365 to facilitate the study of them with daily audios from Lisa Natoli. I encourage you to click here for more info.
I wish you the happiest, most peaceful and fulfilling New Year you have every experienced, and all of the love your heart can hold.
You are the Light of the world – SHINE ON.
Rev Kelly Russell
Psychotherapist, Spiritual Coach
& Teacher of A Course in Miracles