January. New beginnings, fresh starts, good intentions. That is what it’s about, right? Unfortunately, if you are like most of us, by February the resolutions are either out the window, modified or sadly diluted. The new beginning already feels like the old rut, and our good intentions have faded to a niggling guilt in the back of our minds.
So much for that.
This year, I challenge you… DO NOT MAKE RESOLUTIONS. Don’t come up with the obligatory list of improvements to be the best you you can be. It can be soul destroying to get to the next 31 December and feel, “I can’t believe it’s been a year since I didn’t become a better person.”
How about this year, you resolve instead, to love you in the best way possible. To be kinder to yourself. To make more time for the things and people that matter. And to just generally be happier. Yes, yes, I know, you would be happier if you were thinner. And you would be happier if you were healthier. And you would be happier if you were more in control of your finances. But would you really?
Would you ever feel thin enough? Healthy enough? Wealthy enough? Aren’t those the stereotypical holy grails of conversations. No one ever says, “I am so happy with my current weight/health/financial situation”, do they? Those are conversation stoppers. It’s much more socially acceptable to complain about those things than to say you are satisfied with them. When someone does brave that type of attitude, most of us are stunned and walk away from those people feeling that they are arrogant, conceited, self-important braggards.
Why is that?
If I was to stand up and ask a group of six-year olds to tell me five things that they are good at, I bet you they would not hesitate for a second and would probably come up with a list in a few seconds flat. But if I was to ask a group of adults, they would flounder and hesitate and get stumped. I know this, because I have done it. Six year olds can’t wait to tell you that they are great at running and jumping and singing and spelling and writing and making toast and making people laugh. Grown ups… well they get stuck. Five things! I kid you not.
How do we get to that place? The place where we either feel we are not that great at things, or that we feel we may be but we would never have the gumption to outright admit it?
It’s because of our resolutions. OK, maybe not just the resolutions. But the principle is the same because what are resolutions really? They are a long, hard, painfully honest looks at ourselves from our most critical eye. They are the conclusions we draw when we look at all our faults and criticisms and things we – or society – don’t like about ourselves. They are the confidence knocking, damaging chips off our self-esteem. And then when we get asked to list the things we are good at, we come up short.
I am not advocating living in a state of mediocrity. I am all for improvements and stretching yourselves, but you can stretch and improve without knocking yourself backwards. Acknowledge your strengths, and weaknesses, and make plans to improve the things you want, but DO NOT make resolutions based on what you believe society says you should be doing. Do it because you believe in your heart that that is what you really want to do. It’s the difference between what you want to do and what you think you should do. And at the end of the year, it’s the difference between what you willdo and what you thought you would do.
So what does this have to do with parenting?
Do you want your children to be confident about what they bring to their world? Do you want them to know what their strengths and weaknesses are and how they could add value to anywhere they go? Do you want them to feel they are enough? Of course you do. Start modelling that. Start growing that in them from young. Heaven knows there are enough things in the world that will knock their confidence. But if they are happy within themselves, then no amount of knocking will chip away at their self-esteem completely. They will be able to take compliments and criticisms equally in a factual manner. It won’t be a personal thing that will make them feel like they are less. Or more, for that matter.
That is what it has to do with parenting. Self-esteem begins at home.
So this January, resolve to have NO RESOLUTIONS. Simply work on self-esteem – yours and your children’s – and you will find contentment inside yourself, and that will make all the things you want to improve much easier, because they will come from a place of ‘I want to do this for myself’ rather than “I really have to do this..”