If you set a New Year’s Eve resolution in 2022 and you’ve started drinking alcohol again or fallen off the – diet smoking exercise – wagon, then I’d say you’re normal.
New Year’s resolutions tend to self-destruct right about now. Ironically, I’d hoped to curve my red wine intake but must confess that the number of AFD over the last 2 weeks have been few.
Which I suppose just makes me normal too…
So, if you did set a new year resolution and were convinced you could do this and now you haven’t, what’s going on?
Obviously, there’s something about starting a new year afresh that gets most of us hyped up and excited. Oh, the potential!
At that moment you truly believe you really can magically replace unhealthy behaviours with virtuous ones. “I’ll only drink water, limit the number of cups of coffee a day to 2, never eat more than one piece of chocolate, be kinder to my partner, be patient with the kids, do yoga and go to the gym every SINGLE day!”
You convince yourself, dear fellow human, that you can, you will, you must! Because when you do (and you know this with absolute certainty and conviction) everything in your life will fall perfectly into place.
And perhaps you stick to your resolution for a few days or a couple of weeks at best, but then you don’t.
Something happens and before you know it, you’re doing the very thing you just decided you will never do again.
If you’re anything like me, the moment you lapse you start berating yourself for being such a slob. “I’m worthless/lazy/pathetic/undisciplined. I’ll never be able to ____________ and my life will always be ____________” (you fill in the gap).
We are not doomed to failure though. Most people just don’t understand how their body and mind works.
You see, almost every unhealthy behaviour boils down to this basic process: we get hooked by difficult thoughts and feelings and find ourselves doing the very thing we said we wouldn’t.
For example, let’s say your NYE resolution is to stop drinking wine of an evening. You know you’ve been drinking too much. But after a stressful day at work what’s the first thing you reach for when you get home?
If drinking wine has been your go-to solution, then you shouldn’t be surprised.
We’re designed to fall back into old habits, patterns, and behaviours because it works to a point, doesn’t it? Alcohol certainly takes the edge off.
And while it’s okay to have a glass (or two), if you’re downing the entire bottle, screaming at the kids, ignoring your partner, and waking with a regular hangover, perhaps it isn’t.
This is where a mindfulness practice kicks in.
The earlier you notice you’re feeling pressured, annoyed, frustrated, anxious, sad etc. the more you’re able to find a moment to press pause and ask yourself “will downing the entire bottle really help me be the person I want to be and have the kind of relationships I really want to have?”
Mindfulness works by overriding the limbic brain’s emotional triggers that keep you reaching for quick fixes.
You learn how to sit with your difficult thoughts and uncomfortable emotions long enough to bring your prefrontal cortex back online (that’s the smarter part of you!).
Motivation constantly wanes, and willpower goes out the window the moment you feel tired or stressed, leaving your limbic system screaming out for the wine, wine, just give me wine (beer, cigarettes, unhealthy food, endless hours on the couch watching Netflix, or in my case shoe-shopping). You know the drill…
That’s just how it is.
So if you find yourself repeating old behaviours that don’t serve you (whether that’s overindulgence with alcohol, food etc.) it’s probably because your busy life is leaving you stressed and overwhelmed. In which case you’re more likely to be living from your quick-fix limbic brain and not the smarter part.
This is why you’re much better off practising mindfulness.
When you’re more aware of how you’re getting in your own way (understanding what’s driving and undermining you), you have more choice – especially under pressure – as to how you respond.
You can choose to live your life according to your long-term aspirations (be the best you) or to unconsciously keep reaching for those short term, feel-good moments of relief.
As a coach, I support you to move out of stress mode, access the smarter part of you and reconnect with what really matters.
To book a free 15-minute call to discuss working with me go here.