With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, getting caught up in the gifts, the parties, and the consumption of sugar cookies is often far too common. Some people inhale the excitement of decorating, shopping, gift giving and baking while others exhale the fear of not having enough time, money or energy to make it through.
And then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over, leaving in its wake the residue of feeling bloated and broke, short on time and reflecting on the “would have, could have, should haves” of the year.
We vow that this year will be different. We resolve anew to work out regularly, eat healthy, read more, work less, and so on. The cycle continues.
But what if we change it up? Instead of making resolutions that will almost invariably lead to more disappointment, let’s become more intentional in simply accepting who we are and loving our messy selves. Intentionality is something of a buzzword these days, often used to scaffold motivation for doing. The old, you can if you will adage. But what if we create intentionality about being? About choosing? About empowerment?
Setting intentions is simple, realistic and completely doable. You can create your intentions each and every day, changing them as you see fit. What would it feel like to choose joy, to choose self-esteem, to choose to trust yourself, to choose to love yourself for everything you are and everything you are not?
Research shows that when we change our thoughts, we change our feelings. Setting an intention requires us to choose our thoughts. It’s simple, yet complex. In our practice, we often see women who have carried the burden of terribly unhelpful, distorted thoughts for years. They live with these thoughts as though they were the truth. Invariably, these negative, distorted thoughts pave the way for negative feelings which lead to unhealthy behaviors which lead to more negative thoughts. It’s a vicious cycle of self-destruction. The voice inside our head crescendos to a dull roar, urging us to give up or not bother. It drowns out the soft voice that whispers, “Yes, you can.”
The reality is that change, whether planned and welcomed, forced or unexpected, is challenging but not impossible. Most of spend our lives on autopilot, allowing distorted thought patterns to dominate our thinking, leading to mixed up or hard feelings and sometimes unhealthy patterns of behavior. The good news is you are in complete control of your thoughts and have the ability to change them with daily intention and practice.
So let’s start 2016 by embracing the idea of intention rather than resolution, starting with self-love, self-acceptance and self-care. Choose your thoughts with care for yourself and the others in your life. Intend kindness, humor, compassion and humility. Choose yourself.
Sandra Gormon-Brown and Lori Eastep are licensed clinical social workers and partners at Grassroots Therapy Group. They are committed to supporting children and families in the surrounding areas who are impacted by grief, loss and trauma, or simply this so called thing “Life.”