Unfulfilled New Year’s Resolutions are NOT a Lack of Self-discipline

Unfulfilled New Year’s Resolutions are NOT a Lack of Self-discipline

It’s around this time of year that many of us begin to terrorize ourselves with tyrannical resolutions like:

“I will lose weight!”
“I won’t work 80 hours a week!”
“I will take better care of myself.” 
“I won’t eat sugar.”
“I will exercise more.” 

Are these sentences familiar to you? 

Familiar for the sense of hope that comes from new beginnings? And maybe familiar because this is the 3rd, or 30th, year in a row that you have heard yourself or others making these promises to self, only to find that by January 15 life is exactly what it was on Dec. 30? 

Why do we do this? Why do we enter new spaces in time with new hopes and new resolutions, only to crash and burn, time after time? 

Mostly our crashes and burns and disappointed resolutions come from something even more powerful than fragile new hope: unconscious contracts for self-care that have been in place for a very long time, often since our earliest days. 

How can we lose weight, for example, if we have a contract to make sure we never feel the slightest hint of hunger ever again? 

How can we start exercising if we have a contract to make sure that no one, even ourselves, ever tells us what to do again? 

The repeated experience of unfulfilled resolutions is NOT evidence of your lack of self-discipline! Instead, it points to the power of the implicit to rule us. 

The word “implicit” is roughly identical to the word “unconscious,” and many neuroscientists believe that the territory of the implicit is the entire right hemisphere – half of our brain. 

No wonder it is so powerful!  And no wonder we can sink our own best resolutions immediately out of the starting gate. (Or by January 15!) 

The power of the deep seas of implicit movement are the currents that move us – and when we cannot access them with our conscious awareness, we are helpless against them. 

What gives us a foothold in working with the implicit is learning to name and swim with the deep currents of attachment, life energy and non-verbal relationality that are so vital to our essential core of being. 

When we learn to name what has been unnamed, in ways that are not reductive, but are rather appreciative and allow for the flow of language between the solidifying left hemisphere with its quotidian approach to meaning, and the metaphorical, poetic, reverberating right hemisphere, then we are able to claim all parts of self as wanted, even the parts that we are not yet acquainted with. 

This openness and fluidity allows us to swim in the seas of our own unconsciousness without drowning. 

Comment ( 1 )

  • Abigail

    Thank you Sarah for sharing this. I’m interested in learning more about the unconscious contracts I have and how to work with them to gain a foothold as you say.

    I’m grateful for your work.

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