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Resolving to Let Go

Resolving to Let Go

As we welcome in the new year, we are gifted an amazing opportunity to reflect on our lives thus far. We consider the past 12 months, and begin to form a list of personal resolutions based on the areas of life we wish to improve upon. Perhaps we have been stuck working the same dead-end job for years on end, and vow to finally start actively looking for something more fulfilling. Perhaps we have let our physical health take the backseat, and we promise ourselves to make it to the gym more frequently, and to eat more nutritious, well-balanced meals. Perhaps we have always wanted to travel to Spain, and finally pledge to set aside the time and money. When we think of resolutions, we tend to think of personal gain. What do we want to achieve in the year ahead?

Rather than focus on what we would like to attain, why not consider what it is we want (and need) to let go of? Many of us have a difficult time sticking to our resolutions fort more than several months – even weeks, in a lot of cases. As soon as February rolls around we are back in the swing of things; working the same job, eating that same food, and dreaming of the day we will finally take initiative. Maybe next year. Why is this? Truth be told, it may be difficult for us to move forward in life if we are still clinging to self-destructive behaviors and relationships that no longer serve us. In order to strengthen our resolve and lead a life of true fulfillment, we must first acknowledge what it is that we need to leave behind. Once we shed ourselves of the things that are keeping us stuck, we will be far more equipped to stick to our resolutions long-term.

Letting Go of Self-Destructive Behaviors

Certain self-destructive behaviors will consistently prevent us from obtaining any goals we set for ourselves. These behaviors may be entirely subconscious; they may be so deeply engrained in our functioning that we fail to give them a second thought. Take procrastination, for example. Most of us have been procrastinating since grade school; completing our homework at the very last minute, waiting until the night before to study for a big exam. We carry this self-defeating pattern into adulthood, turning in reports right before deadline, paying our bills on the day their due, and so on and so forth. We may make a lengthy list of resolutions, and curse ourselves at the end of January for allowing all of our heartfelt declarations to fall by the wayside. Rather than get discouraged, we may want to take a look at WHY. What negative behavioral pattern underlies this lack of resolve?

We may discover that our tendency to procrastinate popped up continuously as we attempted to make positive changes. Rather than setting specific and unrealistic goals for ourselves, we can take an honest and searching look at the detrimental behaviors that prevent of us from achieving our full potential. “I will do what I can to let go of procrastination,” or, “I will be more in-tune to my tendency to procrastinate,” will inevitably lead to more success than, “I will go to the gym every morning at 6:00 on the dot.” Giving ourselves strict parameters and unwavering deadlines will only lead to disappointment and frustration.

Go easy on yourself! Make a list of negative behavioral patterns that you will attempt to relinquish in the year ahead, and focus on continual progress (rather than perfection – an unattainable ideal).

Letting Go in Relationships

Letting go of self-defeating behavioral patterns is a great way to start moving forward. However, if you find that you are clinging to unhealthy interpersonal relationships, you may have a difficult time letting go of whatever negative behavioral patterns you wish to surrender. This does not mean that the relationship must be abandoned in its entirety. In many cases, it simply cannot be discarded. Say you have a toxic relationship with an immediate family member, or you incessantly butt heads with an employer or coworker. More specifically, say you have grown to deeply resent your nagging mother, who overwhelms you with negativity and never seems to be satisfied with your professional status (no matter how much progress you make in your career). You can choose to stew in dread, nervously anticipating your next phone call (knowing it will end in an anger-fueled screaming match). Or, you can choose to examine your own role in the situation. Why do you keep answering the phone? She’s your mother, sure… but do you need to pick up every time? If you do feel obligated to answer the phone, try asking yourself what you do to exacerbate or instigate the negativity. Do you remain calm, or do you fight back? It is important to remember that it takes two to tango (so to speak). Altering negative patterns of behavior may include changing the way you act within your relationships.

Of course, change never occurs overnight. In order to make progress in any area, we must allow ourselves ample time and a great deal of patience. Treat yourself with kindness! And remember – if you find yourself stuck in a detrimental pattern that you just can’t seem to break free from, there is always support available.

Jessica Baum