Okay, so it is the time of year for resolutions. I like the idea of aspirations more than resolutions, though. Aspirations are what we are moving toward. You cannot fail an aspiration, but you can fail a resolution. Anyway, that is not my point today. The point is, when you encounter resistance to your intention (which is not lack of motivation, by the way, but blockades to your natural motivation), one trick is to tell yourself, “I’ll just…” some small first step. For example, if I cannot get myself to exercise, I might say to myself, “I’ll just put on my exercise clothes and go to the gym. Then if I don’t do anything it’s fine.” It’s a way of getting around resistance without confronting it and without letting it win. “I’ll just do a little….” Kind of simple, but it seems to work for some things.
The other new year’s trick is “At least.” When you are telling yourself all the things you did not do or did badly, always, always end with “At least….” So it might be like, “I didn’t stick to my spending plan, I didn’t study enough; I forgot to do what I was supposed to…” There is always an ending that goes, “At least I cut back; At least I did a little; at least I thought about it….” Because after all, we don’t want to leave ourselves with a feeling of being disappointed in ourselves but instead, recognize our intentions and efforts, however inadequate we may think they are.
Motivation and success are built by pluses. So we have to recognize the pluses however small they are in order to ensure that we protect our relationships with ourselves. Ok. This isn’t exactly about long term therapy. But we don’t have to be deep all the time. Sometimes we have to be practical. At least we are trying to improve ourselves.