Recently, a friend said to me, “I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. They’re just an excuse to judge myself.” I really liked this insight because I see the negative effects of resolutions in my clients all the time.
It reminded me of a client I had a few years ago. She was in her twenties and came to see me after having a series of panic attacks followed by severe anxiety. She proceeded to tell me about all the things she should be doing but was “too lazy” to do. Her to-do list and self-improvement list had just turned into another reason to hate herself for everyday. (She was a perfectionist, and perfectionism and anxiety and panic attacks go together like a puzzle!)
I gave her an assignment: you’re not allowed to do anything that “improves” you this week. She looked at me like I was crazy at the time, but when she came back the next week, she said, “I had no idea how much pressure I was putting myself.” Funny enough, when she gave herself permission not to do the things she though she needed to be okay, she was easily able to jump back on track. She had stopped judging herself.
Try it for a week: give yourself permission NOT to do something. That doesn’t mean go crazy. It doesn’t mean to binge drink or scarf a whole pizza or forego exercise altogether. But how does your outlook change when you don’t make resolutions? How does your body feel when you consider you’re enough as you are, or you let go of the idea that you need to be fixed? That’s a non-resolution resolution I can get behind.