The first of January opens with promise as 525,600 minutes roll out before us in a fresh new year. How many of us begin with resolutions to live from an inspired place that will carry us towards our innermost desires? We reflect on where we are and where we would like to be in our lives and use this new beginning as an impetus for getting down to what is our most important priorities. The list is familiar and long: my health, exercising, the writing I am going to do, the class I am going to take! More pleasure, more love, more socializing, more money, more or less work, less computer, less planning, more self-care… And then, after setting our best intentions, we see what actually shapes up.
For some of us setting goals actually works. But by mid month, the majority of us forget what we said or we are in disappointment and maybe even in downright confusion as to why what we set out to do has not even been touched one iota. There are a couple of things here that might happen next. We may decide that resolutions are not for us and for next year, our resolution will be not to have any. Or we can go into shame and instead of having these delectable juicy dreams, what we have instead are further examples of how we fail ourselves. Or if we are lucky, we might get our second winds and begin to put into action what we first agreed to do. No matter what we do or do not do, by February, we can ease up on any of our psyche’s expectations on new beginnings because our life habits if uninterrupted continue to go back to automatic pilot with whatever is in front of us. What happened then to January’s promise that is still waiting like a dormant seed in winter?
Is there a secret as to why we don’t follow through on our resolutions?
When you are not going after your goals, not taking those action steps, not doing what you set out to do, there is often a secret inner part inside of you that does not cooperate with whatever it is you declare you want so badly. There are names for this part in my work of Shadow Work. Sometimes we call it the “Risk Manager”. This is the one who is watching out for you so that you don’t take risks that could harm you or even put you at risk for deeper emotional ties that you have not recognized with your resolution. For instance if your goal is to lose weight or go to the gym, and you are not doing anything about it, you may not know that the purpose of your weight protected you from unwanted sexual advances or attention that took place long ago. It is so deeply embedded in your unconscious that you might not know why losing weight is actual frightening. Another name for your resistances or blocks to your dreams may be your “Saboteur” whose very job is to interfere and block your ability to take action with hidden resistances and unconscious behaviors in ways that keep you stuck. The reason for this is that you actually have a split, another opinion that opposes your decision. This split if it remains unexamined in your unconsciousness can be the root of why you do not do what you say you were going to. This is basic sabotaging 101 when what you say does not line up with what you do. What should you do?
Journal Your Splits and Hear From Your Saboteur Directly
One Shadow Work skill is to examine what the two parts feel or think about what you want. One way to do this is to write your resolution out on the top of your journal page. Begin to write or speak out loud why it is you want this goal and what it will bring you. Now take the time to write why you do not want this to happen, what are the risks if this happens and what are the reasons that the saboteur may not cooperate? Giving the opportunity to hear both sides of the situation will actually give you more compassion and wisdom of what is going on more deeply as you put forward your resolution.
Often what we discover is that to bring new things into our lives, to have new beginnings, we must risk endings. This January post the celebrations, grieve your losses and your past this winter and begin to make room in your life for what can only come when you are ready to let go of what is no longer true about you or your life. In other words face what is over. If you do this, it may be much easier for you to move into the next stage of what is next in your life. Let your resolutions be the seeds of intentions that you sow for life that with time and tending and steady care, root our dreams into solid ground for the new year ahead.
ALisa Starkweather is founder of many bold and unique initiatives to support women’s healthy leadership, including the global Red Tent Temple Movement, honoring our womanhood journeys; Daughters of the Earth Gatherings; the Women’s Belly and Womb Conferences; Priestess Path; and co-founder of Women in Power—Initiating Ourselves to the Predator Within. A keynote speaker, writer, coach, as well as a certified national facilitator of ShadowWork, Starkweather is featured in the documentary Things We Don’t Talk About: Healing Narratives from the Red Tent. http://www.alisastarkweather.com and http://www.facebook.com/womenriseup http://www.facebook.com/RedTentMovement and womenriseup and sheloveslifetv on Twitter. For further information on Shadow Work see http://www.shadowwork.com