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There’s something about ushering a new year that feels downright magical.
The challenges and difficulties of the old year seem to melt away as hopeful expectations of a new year fill you with excitement.
And though much has been written about the ineffectiveness of New Year’s resolutions, it’s nearly impossible to not think up a few.
Maybe you’re thinking of all the ways you wish you were healthier, wealthier, and friendlier. Maybe instead of feeling excited, these thoughts leave you feeling like a failure. Maybe you did not accomplish a single resolution from the list you created a year ago.
This leaves you feeling deflated and hopeless, especially if you’ve been trying to change your life over a period of years.
If you must make a resolution this year…
Let it be this:
“I resolve to accept and love myself completely and unconditionally.”
In other words, instead of thinking up ways to create a better you, work on loving and accepting you as you are right now.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider this resolution:
1. Your ego will likely resist this resolution for various reasons
Maybe it feels like a cop-out or it’s too simplistic. Your ego will say things like “What will I accomplish by doing that?” Maybe you think that you’re unlovable as you are. It’s ok, just go ahead and give it a try anyway.
2. Don’t wait until you feel better about yourself
This brings me to my next point. Don’t cheat by trying to improve yourself in some small way before you begin accepting yourself. The truth is that no matter how much you improve yourself, you can always find reasons to not accept yourself. Don’t wait.
3. You will fail
Like any other good New Year’s resolution, you’re bound to fail at this one too. You will find that it’s easier to accept yourself somedays more than others. You’ll beat yourself up as you have before. And you’ll judge yourself for beating up yourself in the first place.
But unlike other resolutions, “failure” is really an opportunity to go deeper into the practice. When you’re feeling particularly challenged, you can repeat a phrase like “This too.” Accept it all.
4. Acceptance is not condoning or resignation
Instead, it’s facing your perceived or real flaws with courage, compassion, and grace. In fact, our lack of acceptance is the reason the vast majority of our resolutions fail. We never take this critical first step of fully accepting ourselves as we are. We’d rather just hit the gym than stop to take a good look at ourselves in the mirror first.
But the magic is that when we accept ourselves fully, we’re more easily able to pursue our goals with greater ease. We learn to find joy in the process of becoming rather than fixating on results.
This is the wonderful paradox of acceptance.