Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Resolve Absolutely Nothing

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."
~ Buddha

I tried something new this year and didn't make any New Year's resolutions. Not a one.

It was difficult. The impulse was strong. And I'll be the first to admit there are many, many ways in which Amanda 2.0 could be improved upon (943 ways, at last count....ha!)

But every time I came up with a halfway decent resolution, something I could look back on when 2013 rolls in and be really proud of, I realized resolving it would ruin the whole thing. You see, I'm really bad with orders (and dictates and ultimatums and a whole bunch of other things.) I'm bad with them even if they're issued by me and happen to be fantastic ideas.

I didn't understand why none of my resolutions worked until a couple months ago when I discovered the strangest paradox: Intentional growth only happens when you let go of the judgement that you should change yourself and, instead, accept yourself as you are right now.
"Yeah, yeah," I hear myself argue from a year ago. "But how can I accept things that I don't like about myself? Shouldn't I try to change those things? Isn't that the whole point of resolutions?"

You shouldn't try to change, I now understand. You have to love yourself so you can change.

And you can start right now. Here are a few ideas to help you begin growing into the beautiful person you will be without beating up on the beautiful person you already are (hint, hint...they are one and the same.)

Step 1: Don't hate. Meditate. (Thanks Becks for the fabulous shirt!)

Watch your thoughts. It can take a lifetime of practice to become proficient at this, but a little bit of practice is all you need for this exercise. Meditating is a great place to start. So is yoga. I'm sure there are lots of other fabulous ways, but those are the two that have worked best for me. The goal is to hear the voice in your head, not drown it out. You can work on quieting it down later, but for now, you want to know what it's saying so you can counteract the message.

Step 2: Kill the messenger.
Once you become aware of the mind-chatter, watch for any mean things you're saying to yourself. If you're a woman, a good place to start is by looking in the mirror. Can you hear the voice yet? No? Impressive. Okay, strip down to your underwear (or go commando, if you dare.) There it is. Now tell that voice to shut up. Seriously. That's all.

Step 3: Say something nice about yourself.
Not out loud, silly. To yourself. It doesn't have to be big. But if the critical thought was about your body, think of a part of your body you do like and think the thought. It has to counteract the last message. If you're frustrated with yourself for falling short on something, think I'm proud of myself for having the courage to try. Get creative. The time you spend thinking up a positive thought should shut down the negative pipeline for a few moments, at least. Unfortunately... 

Step 4: It's not dead yet.
So sorry. I should have told you this at the beginning, but those negative little buggers are usually feisty and deeply ingrained. Once you've shot one down, another will pop up in it's place. They're like Gremlins. And now they're angry because you told them to shut up and you're trying to replace them. Alas.

Honestly, though, when you start to recognize the negative mind chatter and counteract it, you'll often find yourself swamped in even more chatter. But that's not really a bad thing because now you'll be able to pinpoint the thoughts even more clearly and eliminate them that much quicker. You'll also get better and better at finding the positives. It might not feel like it, but your brain is already changing (along with your potential for future growth and awesomeness).

Step 5: Repeat as needed.
It's really as simple as that. However, like all things that appear simple, the process takes practice to become second-nature. But the process itself is so worth it. I'll spare you the details from my own "battleground of negativity" (it was like Gettysburg in here!) except to say its been an exciting and rewarding adventure. 

Oh yeah. And when you get good at quieting the hurtful thoughts, loving ones move in to take their place. It feels fantastic. It's so much quieter. And you can actually get some stuff done -- without a resolution in sight. 


1 comment:

  1. Hi Amanda! I can totally picture you speaking to me through your writing! Thank you for sharing your talent!