The new year has already offered ample opportunity to visit familiar terrain with new eyes. I love what I learn when I keep my resolutions and what I learn when I don’t. Over time I’ve noticed that I learn more from what my mind calls failure than from what it calls success.
This year I’m keeping a complete food and exercise journal, a way to gather data so I can navigate more carefully in this arena. In past years I’ve had the modest goal of living on 600 calories a day, drinking only juice for the first two weeks of the year, joining various weight loss programs. The more forgiving the plan the longer it lasted and the better it worked. But ultimately, no matter how good I tried to be, my Inner Dictator would show up and crack the whip, which then gave me permission to give up.
It always starts with believing the old, core beliefs: You blew it. Better give up. What makes you think it’ll work this time? Then the parade of images confirming the thoughts. Last night’s “bowl of sin,” whether it’s ice cream or frosted puff cereal. Then going back to Binges of Years Past. After that, it’s an easy slide into the old familiar groove of broken resolutions. Then unconscious behavior that will just dig it deeper. And so it has gone, year after year.
This is how my Inner Dictator keeps her power. All she needs to do is locate the negative beliefs I’ve rehearsed a thousand times before. This gives her the power. She has found her whip.
This year I resolved something different. My first resolution is to simply observe the data. To notice when I eat more than I need or forget to exercise. Instead of grabbing the whip at first proof, I’m committed to watching my mind as it moves into the old grooves, catching the belief and finding something truer and kinder. I’m finding lots of proof for beliefs that oppose the original: I stopped sooner when I began to eat unconsciously. It’s not unconscious because I wrote it down. I didn’t blow it when I looked at my journal and noticed underlying thoughts and feelings.
I’m resolving a year of Radical Kindness in my life. I’m committing to taking away the whip. One thought at a time.