From as far back as I can remember, every Boxing Day brought with it the New Year’s resolution itch. What’s the New Year’s resolution itch? It’s that niggling urge that I’d get that would make me conduct my own year in review, which would leave me feeling so dissatisfied that I had no choice but to look ahead to the coming year to see what I could resolve to ‘magically’ do better, since — clearly — I hadn’t achieved it over the last 359 days. As if a new year would mean that I could become an entirely new me with no memories of failed resolutions or silent disappointments. That itch.
And then when the next Boxing Day rolled around, and I found myself making the SAME resolution, I used to just say I’d do better next year. You see, for many years my resolution was to lose weight. Mind you, at first it was 20 pounds, then 30, then 40 then 80. (I know! 29 pounds to go! Woo hoo!!) So as I kept making the same resolution each year, my confidence and resolve kept diminishing.
I kept thinking: How hard could it be to lose weight, Tanya? For many years (too many to admit) I’d resolve to lose weight after January 2nd – because of course I couldn’t start a diet on January 1st since I’d need to polish off and finish up the meticulously cured fat-riddled hypertension-inducing ham and the sinful diabetes-causing calorie-ladened Christmas fruit cake lying around since Christmas day, begging for culinary attention. Seriously. Who would start a diet on January 1st when the first day of the year is usually another day of family celebrations and eating or the end of the constant grazing, nibbling and overeating slide, which started the week before?
Well, that was my pattern. (Don’t judge!) ☺
Then I’d try to end the overeating slide by January 2nd, while failing more than succeeding but trying to pull it together by January 7th, at which point I’d ignore the self-doubt that made me question if this time would be different. But I would press on till February – around Valentine’s Day (and just enjoy the chocolates) — before admitting defeat. I mean. Who was I kidding? You didn’t really think it’d be different THIS time, did you, Tanya?
Yet despite the harsh voice of my inner critic, it was as if I couldn’t let it go. I wanted to lose weight. Why was it so hard? I knew what to do, but couldn’t seem to do it. Let’s face it. Everyone who has struggled with being overweight knows what to do. We know what we should do to lose weight. Cut calories. Cut carbs. Count macros. Eat less. Eat more fruits and veggies. Drink more water. Move more. We know the drill! We’ve heard it all before. We know!
And we know why we’re overweight. We eat too many times each day. We eat too many carbs. We don’t watch our portions. We eat heavy carb-loaded meals late at nights then go to bed soon after. We drink too many glasses of soda. Of sweetened juices. Of wine. We don’t exercise. Blab … blah … blah.
Yes. We. Know. But knowing hasn’t helped, has it?
I was tired of wanting to lose weight and not being able to, yet I kept hoping. I didn’t talk about it, but I was just tired of feeling like a failure. I mean – if you try THAT many times and fail? You feel like a failure. And I hated how I felt. Hated everything about struggling with my weight.
Hated always having to wear only loose, flowing clothes, claiming it was ‘my style’. ☺ Hated having to always hide in black clothes for the illusion of looking slimmer. Hated the clothes that didn’t fit right. Hated trying to fit into the extra large (XL) clothes that were so tight that I felt like they’d cut off any circulation to necessary parts of my body. 🙂 Hated going to the plus size stores and not liking the choices. Hated the production that I’d make when I had to do a weigh-in at the doctor’s office. (Tons of self-deprecating humor required!!) Hated the selfies that reminded me of my expanding size. And just hated that the hate was obviously still not motivating me enough to lose weight!!
I had read about enough diets and tried some, but none had worked well for me. I had tried Weight Watchers, Atkins, Fit For Life, and Herbal Life. Most times I stayed on a diet for five days, if that long. But I’d always try again on the Monday. Most Mondays. It was so so (yes — so so!) exhausting. And I had watched many weight loss success stories on YouTube, and I had felt envious and even bitter. I told myself that they were successful because they got ‘help’. Yeah. They must have done some surgery. Seriously. Who could lose more than 50 pounds without surgery? (Please!)
And I had read and read and read many self-help books on goal achievement, success, self-discipline, willpower, etc. And I had chanted many weight loss motivational quotes, creeped (not crept, right??) ☺ on many Facebook weight loss groups, and read any article that promised the cure or the wonder drug/diet that would deliver a 20-pound weight loss in just 7 days!! (Forget those magazines strategically positioned by the checkout aisle at the supermarket!) Despite all this research effort, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get the drive to ‘Just. Do. It’. But I kept hoping for something … anything … to just trigger a spark in my brain that would motivate me. But the more weight I gained each year, the harder it was to hope. Losing 20 or even 30 pounds seemed possible, but 80?? (Sigh.) I was sure that losing weight was high on the scale (no pun intended!) 🙂 — if not at the very top of the scale — of top impossible feats. Maybe I needed to be superhuman to succeed?
This was where I was in April 2017. So, when my friend, Faranak, invited me to attend an information session for the Landmark Forum, I agreed to attend. She had explained that the Landmark Forum was really personal development courses, and that got my interest. I learned that the Forum was ‘grounded in a model of transformative learning—a way of learning that gives people an awareness of the basic structures in which they know, think, and act. From that awareness comes a fundamental shift that leaves people more fully in accord with their own possibilities and those of others’. This was promising because I felt that I needed my perspective on food and eating to shift or change, and if this shift could happen through self-awareness — I wanted to give it a try.
Based on what I read on Landmark’s website, and despite the criticisms that I also read elsewhere, I thought I’d attend to see if I could experience this transformation they promised. If I could experience this shift, I could lose weight or at least find out why I couldn’t lose weight. It almost seemed ridiculous to spend $700 (Canadian) for a personal development course and this single goal of weight loss, but I needed to figure out what was blocking me from losing weight. A strange goal for the Landmark sessions, I know! But it was this huge weight (once again — no pun intended) 🙂 around my neck, and I just wanted — once and for all — to stop obsessing about it. And this personal development approach was something I’d never tried before, and I was desperate. And there were no other new weight loss options at that time.
The promise had seemed too good to be true. I learned the Landmark Forum was designed to bring about ‘positive, permanent shifts in the quality of [one’s] life’ — in just three days, and my interest was piqued though I was doubtful. Did I really want to set myself up for the inevitable sadness and despondence that cloaked me when diets failed and I experienced, once again, the disappointment in admitting it ‘didn’t work’? ‘Cos I gotta tell you: That sorrow and disappointment I tended to experience when a diet didn’t produce the results I anticipated were soul-crushing.
Every time I failed, I felt despondent for days and days and sometimes weeks and months. It’s like I’d go through my personal stages of loss. Loss of hope. Loss of confidence. Loss of self-esteem. Loss of a dream. The dream of finally being comfortable with the body I saw in the mirror. And when it didn’t happen, I would retreat into myself a little and soothe the sadness by eating a little more. And by overeating, of course, I felt self-disgust and a little self-loathing. But no one knew. That was my secret. That was my inner demon to fight.
But I was so tired of being so tired of failing. Should I even assume that weight loss could happen as a result of a mind shift? I had heard that people left Landmark as empowered, changed people who became better versions of themselves … and I wanted in! I hadn’t heard any weight loss success stories, but I’d heard about people – at the end of the Forum – leaving with ideas for entrepreneurship, business expansion, family and relationship growth, and health improvement, but not weight loss per se. But I thought: why not weight loss?
So, Faranak and I went to the Landmark information session, and at the end of that session, I ignored the gremlins in my head that were jeering at me, and I took a baby step of faith, tip-toed gingerly out of my comfort zone and actually registered for the upcoming all-weekend Forum, even though I didn’t know what to expect. And of course I had buyers’ remorse before I even got home. Me? Going to a self-help session? It had never happened before, and I was skeptical. Would it be like the high-energy Tony Robbins event that I’d seen on YouTube? I figured it would be similar to some extent, so I was determined to get a lot of sleep before the weekend even started so that I could meet the demands of the session.
But when I arrived at the Landmark office for the Forum on the Friday morning in April, I was already exhausted. I had tried to get eight hours of sleep the night before so that I could brace for the marathon weekend, but I had only gotten five hours of sleep. What was I getting into? Would this be a scam? My mind couldn’t settle down and allow me to sleep longer. I knew the Forum would run over three consecutive days and an evening session, with each day beginning 9:00 a.m. and ending around10:00 p.m., but I wasn’t sure how I’d manage as the schedule sounded gruelling and rigid, but knowing there’d be breaks every 2-3 hours, with a 90-minute dinner break, I hoped I’d survive. And I did. Barely. ☺
When I took a seat at the very, very back (of course!) of the hall at the Landmark office on West Pender Street in Vancouver, I was surprised to see that there were a few hundred people who had already arrived. There was a buzz in the air as people chatted animatedly with each other – some looking hopeful, some looking curious, while others – like myself — looked skeptical. Been there, done that? I wondered.
Then at exactly 9 a.m., a high-energy petite Asian woman, in a corporate black skirt suit and black knee-high boots and no make-up (I know), took the microphone and introduced herself as the Landmark Forum leader/coach who would be conducting the sessions all weekend. She welcomed us, reminding us about our dreams, arousing our desires, and engaging us with promises. After a very lengthy overview where she told us what to expect, she explained that the format meant that people would voluntarily come up to the microphone and talk about their issues and get coached. (Whoa. Screech! Brakes on. What?!)
I was bewildered because … what was that? Group therapy?? I didn’t come for that. I wasn’t there to hear anyone’s problems. I was there for mine. And I was, somehow, assuming that it would be more of a lecture format where we’d learn about habits and the brain and how to overcome the mental resistance that hindered people from changing negative patterns of behavior. I wanted to sit back, learn content, and take notes. I was there in research mode and had planned to take copious notes as that was my learning style. I needed to listen, learn, and take notes. That was how I learned. That was what I taught my college students. And that was not going to change. I was not going to just listen. I needed to discover why I wasn’t succeeding at losing weight, and I needed to take notes of the relevant points. How else was I going to learn what I was doing wrong?
But the coach told us to not take notes. She said we could if we wanted. (Well, I wanted!) But she warned that taking notes meant we’d lose out on the miracles. (Pppfft. Right.) I took notes. (Naturally.) I was determined to get my money’s worth and I wanted a written record of everything discussed so that I could review the notes later. But … can I tell you? *whispering* … It didn’t quite work out as I had planned. *sheepish grin* Whenever I attempted to take notes, I kept missing out as the concepts were just so new, and I was just too curious about everything happening around me, so I eventually gave up on taking notes. ☺
Apparently the growth and transformation occurred during the VERY public conversation between the coach and the volunteer. The volunteers would experience the transformation as they were guided out of their (self-imposed??) rut and limited thinking and beliefs, while unveiling their blind spots. And the listening audience would also benefit as they … eavesdropped? There was some ‘lecturing’ and explaining of concepts during the conversation, but very little. I found this very different. It was just a conversation between the coach and the volunteer, but as the coach asked questions, it was as if the scales fell from the volunteers’ eyes. It was like … like … like light bulbs kept going off for these volunteers. I had never seen anything like that before. Each question seemed to strike a chord for the volunteers, leaving them reeling. What made these questions so powerful? And how did the coach seem to be asking all the right questions? Was it a scam?
The volunteers talked about issues like hating their jobs, dealing with difficult managers, wanting to leave their boy/girlfriends, wanting to start a business, wanting to stand up to overbearing parents, etc. But the more I listened, the more I wondered when a volunteer would talk about wanting to lose weight because there was NO way I was going to get up, walk to the front of the hall, take the microphone, talk INTO the microphone, and admit my weight loss ‘issue’ in front of a room of Canadian strangers. No, thank you!
So at the end of the first day’s session, I went home after 10 p.m., exhausted and very disappointed that no one seemed to want to lose weight, but still hopeful since many people had reported experiencing ‘breakthroughs’. That Friday night, I set my alarm, went to sleep, and rose early the next day to do it all over again, hoping the second day would be different.
The second day, however, wasn’t different. By midday on the Saturday, I was beginning to panic. Suppose no one brought up weight loss as an issue? Then I would have wasted my $700 as that was my main reason for attending. I was beginning to feel a little stressed, but towards the end of the afternoon session, things began to change for me. So at the 4 p.m. break on the Saturday, I joined the queue to have a quick 5-10 minute chat with the Forum leader/coach during the 90-minute dinner break because something she said had made me curious.
When it became my turn to talk to her, I quickly told her I’d been trying to lose weight since I’d had my son about 25 years before (I know!), and now that my father was sick, I was more anxious because I’d started overeating even more. I whispered this, though, because I didn’t want an audience,☺ but I told her I felt I’d been running a racket.
I had remembered something the coach had said in the Rackets segment of the Forum, which she had explained as an unproductive way of acting that has a certain payoff—some advantage or benefit we are receiving that reinforces the cycle of behavior, though it has steep costs, whether in our vitality, affinity, self-expression or sense of fulfillment. That made me curious. That made me stop and think. Why? Because even though I kept saying I wanted to lose weight, I felt that deep deep deep down (yes, that deep) 🙂 I, somehow, felt there was a payoff or an advantage to being overweight. (I know!!!)
That realization bowled me over. Flattened me to the ground, I tell ya! I didn’t know what the advantage was but I was certain that I had been caught up in a ‘I want to lose weight but not really’ racket. Seriously. I felt I didn’t really really want to lose weight. I knew I SHOULD, but I didn’t really want to. That had been a eureka moment for me.
From the session, the coach had explained that by recognizing the racket ‘pattern, its costs, and how we have been keeping the pattern in place, we have the choice to interrupt the cycle and discover new ways of interacting that lead to new levels of happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment in areas that are most important to us.’ I wanted to know more. I told her I didn’t know why I had been running that racket and for so long.
Then she looked at me and said, “Do you really want to lose weight?”
Hello, I just said that.
“Yes. I do.” I answered hesitantly.
“Ok. So you want to lose weight. Then what’s stopping you? What’s holding you back?”
I opened my mouth, then closed it. I tried again. Opened mouth. Closed it. Opened again, then asked slowly, “What’s? … Stopping? Holding? … Me?”
She continued, “Yes. What’s in your way? If you want to lose weight and it’s not happening, there has to be a reason.”
My eyebrows jumped up then met each other, and I narrowed my eyes. I paused. I was stumped. My mind was blank. I was speechless. Then I began to panic because there was a line-up behind me and I didn’t want to be the woman with the big hair with the mouth movement like a fish … at the front of the line … who was speechless, wasting time while the people behind her waited impatiently. Then the coach asked, “Do you think it may be fear?”
“Fear?” I was puzzled.
She continued, “Your hair tells me you enjoy being seen.” I smirked when she said that. Then she continued, “But your body language tells me you don’t want to be seen.”
(BAM … Again!)
“Let me tell you a story,” she continued. “Years ago, a Mexican drug lord’s daughter was kidnapped at her school. She was held hostage for a few days, but was unharmed. When the ransom was paid, and she was delivered back to her parents, she started overeating. She ate and ate until she became unrecognizable. When I met her, she explained that she had eaten that much because she never wanted to ever be in that situation again. She felt – somewhere in her subconscious — that if she looked unattractive, people would ignore her and no one would ever look at her or think she was worth being kidnapped. She wanted to be invisible because that made her feel safe.”
(BAM. BAM. BAM!!!)
Insert the ‘drop the mic’ emotion here. ☺
As I listened to that story, I was aware of this warmth enveloping me — beginning first around my neck then travelling up my ears, and I knew the people in the line behind me could hear her. So I nodded as she spoke, clutching my throat and fidgeting as I listened. The more I nodded, the more I realized that my eyes were filling. Then the tears spilled as she said, “When I saw you, I thought of that girl.”
At this point, I was sobbing. She asked me to tell her what I was feeling.
“That story brought back a memory,” I explained. “It’s so weird, because I didn’t remember it before today, but as you began speaking, I saw the scene clearly.”
“Tell me about it, please,” she said. I paused and swallowed. Then I told her the story that I had buried until that moment.
“When I attended high school in Jamaica, I used to wait for my father to pick me up at the end of each school day. I’d hang out with other girls who also waited for their parents/guardians and we’d laugh and chat on the steps in front of the classrooms near the front of the main school, the main campus.”
I paused for a minute, fondly remembering the girls on the steps … girls like Yvonne and Nadine Riley, Tricia and Dawn Duncan, Prudence and Debbie Hamil, and others. We had such good times. This was the best part of the day at my high school, St. Hugh’s, and one by one, we’d say goodbye as our ride came.
Then I continued, “My father usually picked up me and my sister by around 4 p.m., and we’d leave other girls behind waiting for their folks. This day in question, though, my sister wasn’t at school, my father was late, and I was the last student left behind waiting to be picked up. This was the first time that my father had ever been that late. And at 4.50 p.m., he still hadn’t arrived. I later learned that my father was late because he had had to deal with an emergency at work.”
“I knew he’d come soon,” I continued, “but I did feel a bit nervous being the last student there. As I waited on him, I rummaged through my bag, found a book, and began reading to pass the time. I was lost in the book until I heard laughter coming from the C campus, the back section of the school that led to Camp Road at the back entrance of the school. When I looked up, I saw four boys wearing khaki pants and white shirts with purple and white striped ties, walking down the hill towards me.”
I explained that I was about 14 years old and the boys were obviously older than me, and since it was four of them, I felt afraid because I was outnumbered. My heart rate had sped up. But they were joking around with each other, and they hadn’t yet noticed me.
As I spoke, I pictured the day clearly. My uniform ended a little below my knees, and I felt I needed to protect myself. I pulled down the hem of my green tunic, then forced myself to release it as I straightened the green cotton fabric with nervous strokes. I wanted to cover myself, but realized I couldn’t hide. I looked at my watch. It was almost 5 p.m. I tried to bolster myself. Where’s Daddy? Look brave, Tanya. It’s just silly boys. Don’t show fear. Ignore them and they may just do the same.
They were clowning around. Then, during one of their gales of laughter, they looked towards the steps and noticed me. I was looking at them through the corner of my eye, and I knew the moment they spotted me. Maybe if I don’t give them attention, they’ll ignore me? But they seemed excited to see me. Clearly ignoring them wasn’t going to be effective. So I straightened my shoulders and tried to look bored then haughty. One of them whispered something to the other three, and whatever he said brought on more laughter as they sauntered purposefully towards me, grinning. I could hardly breathe. Breathe, Tanya. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out.
They all started grinning with me, and I could no longer breathe. I started taking shallow breaths. My eyes had widened. And I kept thinking, “Daddy, where are you? Where are you? Where are you???”
My palms had gotten damp. I couldn’t sit still. I jiggled my legs. I kept fidgeting, and I tried staring them in the eyes, hoping that that would rattle them, but they kept smiling broadly. They couldn’t have missed my fear. I was fresh meat, and I wondered how it would end. I held my breath. I couldn’t win. How could I? Four to one? I felt the tears pooling, but I kept reprimanding myself. Don’t cry. Don’t look weak.
My brain had frozen, and I felt like my eyes had bugged out. And I continued staring at them, daring them, and when they were about twelve or so feet in front of me, I heard the rumble of my father’s Chevy monster engine and the horn. (My father had a habit of announcing his impeding arrival by blowing his horn when he drove pass the back gate. Blowing his horn meant: I’m giving you notice. Grab your bag and books, and be ready and waiting when I get there so I don’t have to wait on you.) I got more nervous knowing he was so near and yet so far, and I couldn’t grab my books and bag. Would he get there in time? Come, come, come, come quickly, Daddy. Please come quickly. Please. Please. Please.
I knew the sound of my father’s car. Actually, all the girls who waited for their parents after school did. They all knew when Mr. Leach had arrived. The sound of the rust-brown Chevy on Camp Road was unmistakable. That rumble meant it’d take him about 60 seconds to reach the front of the schoolyard, entering on Leinster Road. I started panting, shoulders heaving. Of course the boys didn’t know the Chevy’s sound and laughed more and started goading me. They just stood there, not moving, just jeering. One said, “Young girl, wi goin’ have a good time, yu si!” Keep calm, Tanya. It’s almost over. Just breathe.
And just as the boys were about two feet in front of me, my dad’s car sped into the schoolyard, his tires scattering gravel and the stones in the car’s path, leaving a cloud of dust behind his car. The boys chased away. I exhaled loudly and, on wobbling legs, stumbled to my dad’s car, flung the car door open, threw myself on the seat and proceeded to sob. The adrenaline had kicked in, and I allowed myself to finally feel the fear.
My father then proceeded to lecture me about safety — asking me why I hadn’t gotten up, moved away from the boys, gone to the library for safety. What? Are you kidding me? Why would I go to the deserted, secluded library?? Did he think I was complicit? As he continued to pummel me with question after question about the incident, I stopped crying as he hadn’t acknowledged my fright or my tears. My father hated tears. Instead I fumed and clenched my jaw so hard that I thought my teeth would shatter. When I got home, I scurried to my room and sobbed without restraint. I couldn’t believe that my father hadn’t seen the need to comfort or console me, yet thought reprimanding me was appropriate. I should have gotten up? How? And go where? Wouldn’t THAT have been really inviting trouble?
That left me angry and hurt and afraid because — for the first time — I felt I had come that close to being raped, and I had felt powerless and unprotected. I kept replaying the scene and every time I realized how lucky I had been, I got angrier. Angry that my father had been late and hadn’t even apologized. Angry that my friends had left school earlier than me that day. Angry that the school hadn’t had more security. Angry that my father’s words had been so harsh and unkind. Angry that I hadn’t made some ninja moves before the boys had spotted me. Angry because I felt weak. And somehow during the mental self-flagellation, I decided that it was my fault. That I had brought it on myself. That was how my immature teenage brain had interpreted it.
At home, my father told my mother that I ‘almost got myself in trouble’. Me? I almost got myself in trouble? There was no discussion with me. The discussion was about me. Once again, I felt powerless, angry, silenced. You didn’t contradict my father. If you attempted that, it didn’t end well. So I cried and screamed into my pillow, and I resolved to never be put in a similar situation ever again. I would never be afraid like that again. I would always keep safe. And I built a wall of anger and fear around me, and insulated and lined the wall of anger with layers and layers of fat.
My parents never spoke about it again. (On a side note: As I was writing this blog, I considered a new perspective. I realized that my father must have been just as frightened as I had been and must have felt responsible since he had been late. He was never one to express those deep emotions so being angry with me must have been his way of coping with what could have been a disastrous outcome. He hadn’t meant to be insensitive, but must have been just so relieved and even angry with himself. Hindsight, right?)
After I told the coach at Landmark this story, she asked if I’d ever thought that, like the Mexican drug lord’s daughter, I had wanted to remain overweight. That I had used my weight as a shield. That I had built my self-image around being overweight. I told her that I hadn’t thought of that, and had not even thought about that incident for over 35 years.
After relaying the story, I felt exhausted and overwrought, and even though she didn’t tell me what needed to be my next step, for the first time I felt I had something … like a diagnosis. Now I knew what my problem was, and I had begun to see that a solution was possible. I realized how the past had influenced my present, and I knew it could change even though I didn’t know how.
That was what I got from Landmark, and that was huge for me. I finally begun to get an insight into myself and begun to understand some of the emotions behind my overeating. The after-school incident was one of the childhood wounds that needed to be unearthed, and with the help of a counselor I was able to resolve other wounds that contributed to my overeating.
What I gathered from Landmark was that when we begin to see that our identity was put together in response to something that we had determined shouldn’t be, the result is a new freedom in saying who we are—a fundamental shift in what we see and know as possible. So with this knowledge and with the help of a counselor, I was able to begin the healing process. I learned to replace my negative thoughts and beliefs with more empowering beliefs that fostered building self-esteem. I learned forgiveness. I learned self-compassion. I learned to face my past failures and fears. Then — and only then — losing weight became possible. I started my keto weight loss journey in April 2018, and I have 30 pounds to go.
It has been a process, though. I had tons of homework – ooppps, I mean self-work — that I had to do daily, and still do now. It’s still a work in progress, but that’s the only reason I’ve been able to lose 51 pounds so far. Sure, the keto-eating lifestyle has been good for me and I’ve had amazing results, but I couldn’t have done it without first dealing with my internal issues. I didn’t complete the Landmark Forum, but that nugget of revelation was the key to unlocking my transformation.
What I have learned (not learnt as learnt is the Jamaican/British past tense, and learned is the Canadian past tense) 🙂 is that any new year’s resolution or desire to change cannot occur or maybe I should say cannot occur permanently if, somehow, there is an internal block or obstacle. In my case, I claimed I wanted to lose weight, but my internal radar said: Don’t lose weight. It’s better to be fat, so you’ll never be too attractive, and you’ll be safe etc. etc. etc. (And who would I be if I’m not good ol’ jolly overweight Tanya?)
It was good to learn this because it has made me think more reflectively when I say I want to change any area of my life. If it’s a new goal or resolution, I now try to examine the possible roadblocks that may prevent a permanent and positive outcome. And if it’s an old goal or resolution (like going to the gym in 2019), I now examine the roadblocks that have preventing me from succeeding. This way I won’t be fooling myself, and I don’t have to make empty resolutions or commitments that I have no ability to pursue or intention of keeping. This way I keep myself honest.
What about you?
Have you made any new year’s resolutions for 2019? Are they new resolutions or are they resolutions you made last year and the year before and the year before the year before? And even if they are new resolutions, how likely are you to succeed? And does it even matter if you don’t succeed? Meaning: What will it cost you, in terms of saving face or accountability or leverage, if you don’t succeed?
Answering that question will help you to determine IF you really want to accomplish that goal because if there’s nothing to lose … no real consequence if you don’t succeed, why would you even need to put too much effort into trying? We know human beings are really complex and our rationale doesn’t always make sense to others, but makes sense to us. And if the payoff for not meeting our goal is actually greater than the payoff for meeting our goal, why would we try to succeed? If losing weight (my goal) meant I’d have to shed my fears and insecurities that have been a part of my identity, my mindset, forever and if it meant changing my self-image and becoming more attractive (the payoff) BUT — if being more attractive also meant I’d be more vulnerable to harm (potential rape or unwanted attention), why would I want to lose weight? And if there is no real consequence (economically, socially, personally, etc.) when you don’t succeed, why even bother? Yeah. I’ll just remain fat and uncomfortable, but I have tons of friends who like me just as I am and they won’t ever mention my expanding waistline — if they want to remain as my friend! Plus many of them are overweight too. And so what if I’m hypertensive and borderline diabetic? Who isn’t? I’ll just buy looser clothes. See? No REAL consequence for not losing weight.
I’m thinking that we want to succeed even if we’re not sure if we have the requisite skill or motivation to achieve our new goals. But what if we could bolster the possibilities? What if we could strengthen our chances of success this year? Since the research shows that 80% of goals and resolutions that are made in January usually fail by February, maybe we could try a different approach this year so that our goals will be in the successful 20%?
As the new year approaches, instead of making the same new year’s resolutions again and again, let’s first ask ourselves two questions:
1. What do I really want? 2. What’s stopping me/What’s holding me back? (or: What could be hindering me?)
Then we must dig deeply. Keep asking ourselves why. Ask why at least six times. Ask until we’re satisfied with the answer. We’ll know when we can stop asking why.
Here’s an example:
What do you really want?
To lose weight.
Because I hate being overweight.
Because I hate how my clothes fit.
Because I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror when the clothes fit awful.
Because I don’t like the person I’ve become.
Because I can’t love or like myself when I think I look awful.
Because no one else will love me if I can’t even like myself.
Wow! That right there would need investigation. Here would be a good place to start because of what it revealed. From the example above, we can see that even though the outward struggle was to lose weight, the internal struggle was about wanting love. And this is where the transformation would need to begin, as the internal struggle is addressed.
We must dig deeply, uncover our blind spots, and answer these questions honestly so that we can experience the necessary shift in mindset, behavior, and actions. I think the answers to these questions may save us from unnecessary suffering and can provide us with more hope as we begin to realize that we’re not weak or failures; we need to find the root cause of our struggles — our fears — so that we can heal and achieve our hearts’ desires.
Let’s begin the journey of transformation and not repeat the same new year’s resolutions ever again. Let’s break the cycle of failure. Let’s resolve to look back at our 2019 goals in December 2019 and celebrate achieving those goals.
Just remember to ask yourself: What do I really want? What’s holding me back?