Here we are at the beginning of February and I have already let one of my new year resolutions lapse -which was to write a weekly blog. So much for good intentions! If you made a new year resolution have you managed to stick to it and, if you’ve already given up on it, are you beating yourself up about it?
According to a Bupa poll nearly half of Brits who made resolutions (43%) gave up on them in less than a month. Typical new year resolutions include losing weight, spending less money, staying fit and healthy and giving up smoking- to name just a few.
In life we tend to get into patterns of behaving a certain way and it can be hard to change these habits which results in us giving up and falling at the first hurdle. Yogic philosophy talks about ‘samaskaras’ —our habits, patterns, and conditioning which can have a positive or negative effect on us. It suggests that meditation and self reflection can help us change unhelpful patterns and habits, so that we can move forward but gradually -one step at a time.
The trouble with new year resolutions is that we can be too ambitious and also unrealistic about how long changes can take.
We can also be extremely self critical and so often there is a loud, destructive voice inside us undermining our self confidence and telling us we can’t change. As a result self-doubt creeps in and we feel less motivated.
Our habits and the way we behave don’t need to define us. We can alter our behaviour, but we need to be kind to ourselves and value our strengths and see the progress we are making. Instead we tend to constantly criticise ourselves and tell ourselves we are no good each time we have a set back and revert to a habit we are unhappy with. It is good to adopt a more compassionate view of ourselves and our behaviour.
In an article in Yoga Journal Kate Holcombe, the founder of the Healing Yoga Foundation in San Francisco, explains that in yoga philosophy Patanjali likens the mind to a brilliant gem. “Over a lifetime, that shiny diamond gets dirty, dusty, coated over by conditioned thoughts and the experiences we have. We lose touch with our inner brilliance.” Changing a pattern of behaviour that’s not serving us can be seen as cleaning away the accumulated dust of the mind.
So let’s all be kind to ourselves and have greater confidence in our ability to make changes and let our inner light shine.