Each new year brings with it the promise of something better: more happiness, health, success, connection. You have high hopes for the coming year and you set your New Year's resolutions accordingly.
Sadly, despite your best intentions, don't you find that the majority of your resolutions are broken before the first month of the year is over?
So, how do you create a better 2016 for yourself if it's darned near impossible to keep the resolutions you make on the first of the year?
You have to approach this from a whole different angle. You have to understand why it's been so hard to change.
We humans aren't machines who can be programmed to do the right thing. Far from it. We're complex beings with hearts and minds that quite often contain contradictory needs and feelings.
How many times have you recognized these push-pull impulses within yourself? You resolved to make some new friends in the new year but something held you back; you tried for a promotion at work but for some reason, you were unable to perform at your best; you wanted to meet that special someone and start a family but somehow, you found yourself sabotaging your first dates.
You wanted to do better but oftentimes, you couldn't. When one part of your psyche says "go" and another part says "stop," this inner conflict will always prevent you from moving forward with your resolutions for the coming year.
The way that you can bypass the yes/no ambivalence within you is to go deeper than the level of simply changing your habits to where you recognize your authentic value and potential.
And that brings us to my main point. For a better 2016, you need to love yourself more.
Notice that I didn't say you need to be loved more. It's self-love, not love from others, that will empower you to create a better 2016.
What does loving yourself more look like? It's simple. First, you need to identify any negative stories you've been telling yourself about your worth, your capabilities or your potential for happiness and success.
You need to see that this negative self-talk originated from direct or indirect messages you took in as a child, and that these messages were perpetuated over the years.
These messages that you absorbed from your family and society may have caused you to believe -- consciously or unconsciously -- that you weren't smart, competent, or good enough, and that you might have gotten caught up in a self-fulfilling prophesy:
The more you were convinced of these negative stories, the more you've messed up or fallen short and the more you've messed up or fallen short, the more you've become convinced that these stories are true, and so on.
You have to see that the authentic you doesn't conform to these stories. No matter how much you've messed up, fallen short or disappointed yourself (or others), you are better and you can do better. You just need to rewrite your story.
Loving yourself means stepping out of your story and seeing that the real you isn't this person who keeps making and breaking their New Year's resolutions. The real you has tremendous potential that's just waiting to be tapped.
When you love yourself, you give yourself permission to be different and better than the person you've been; you can see beyond the negative stories and recognize that you're more than just the sum of your previous choices and outcomes.
You can free yourself from the old scripts you've been following and do something new, and better than before.
Self-love gives you the opportunity to start fresh, to let go of whatever ambivalence you've been carrying and to pursue your goals with greater clarity, purpose and determination.
Self-love includes self-forgiveness; forgiveness for the mistakes you've made or the ways in which you've been stuck. It doesn't mean self-lenience, however. True self-love is holding yourself accountable for the choices you've made and the actions you've taken.
When you own up for any wrongs you've done and atone for any hurts you've committed, your self-love grows, because now you're doing the right thing.
Self-love makes you a better person. Instead of beating yourself up for your mistakes you can forgive yourself and make up for any negative outcomes you've created. This adds more positive energy to your life and to the world.
Self-love includes honesty. When you love yourself, you can see yourself more clearly, so it's easier to recognize what's been holding you back from achieving your goals.
It's much easier to be honest about yourself when you aren't beating yourself up for what you see. When self-awareness is combined with self-acceptance, you can more easily change what needs to be changed in your attitudes, beliefs and behaviours.
So, if you want to have a better 2016, hold off on making New Year's resolutions and just focus on self-love. Identify and let go of the negative stories about yourself that you've been walking around with; see yourself as someone with infinite potential and recognize that there's really nothing to stop you from pursuing your goals.
With self-love, you can overcome ambivalence, resolve your inner conflicts and move beyond your habitual patterns of behaviour. With self-love, you're free to become the best possible version of who you can be.
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