As a life coach and therapist January is a busy month for me. This is because as another stressful year ends and a new one begins; people have had time over the Christmas holidays to reflect on the past year. But rather than acknowledging our achievements and successes, we generally tend to focus on our problems, and feel guilty about not sticking to our previous year’s resolutions. This seems to be a pattern that repeats for most of us every year. So, what is really going on here?
People often joke about the gym and weight management clubs being so busy in January and then everyone quits after a few months or even weeks. Are people just lacking will power or is there something deeper going on?
Are you just on autopilot?
Research shows that by the age of about 30, people are unconscious 95% of the time. This is because our bodies are so used to our routines that they know them better than we do. A good example of this in action is when most people can’t remember their bank pin number mentally. They say that they need to have the key pad in front of them. Or they arrive at their destination and can’t remember the car journey. This is because our bodies know the action or route so well, that they take over without us having to be consciously in control. Now consider that most of your day we run on similar programs. You are effectively on auto-pilot most of the time, so what happens when you introduce something new and you haven’t planned it properly, or don’t put a structured routine in place? Well eventually your body will take over and run its usual patterns. Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I must go to the gym this week!” In that moment you really mean it, because you were having a conscious moment. But as the week goes on and you go back onto autopilot, it just doesn’t happen. Another example of this would be when you say to your self that you need to stop at the shop on the way home because you need some milk, and then you completely forget. Don’t worry you aren’t losing your memory – you are just not present, and your unconscious (the body) has taken over.
How to stick to your New Year’s resolutions
So, what is the answer? You have to get really organised and set a clear intension/goal. Create set days and times to work on it, and put things in place to help you stick to it. You have to make that goal as important as anything else that you do regularly, and be consistent with it until it becomes a new program – you wouldn’t forget to brush your teeth (hopefully 😉). For tips on motivation and following through on your goals, here are some helpful videos from my YouTube channel:
Are you always failing to follow through with your goals and resolutions?
But what I am about to discuss goes a lot deeper and doesn’t just explain why resolutions don’t work. It also explains why people can get stuck in destructive patterns for their whole lives, if they aren’t aware of what I am about to discuss.
The truth is most people are NOT dealing with the root cause of their problems. Instead they are focusing on the surface level symptoms or habits that result from a much deeper problem, which they may not even be aware of. As I stated above people run on programs, most of which are learned before they are about 8 years old. This is important to know because the experiences and development in those early years form the beliefs and programs that will shape the rest of our lives.
In addition to their obvious needs like food and sleep, a child also has two main psychological needs. Love/connection and validation/self-expression. But it’s stressful being a parent. There is no official handbook, and it’s often impossible to meet a child’s needs 100% of the time. All you can do is your best, and in most cases the child grows into a healthy adult. However, it is highly likely that in that time some limiting beliefs or programs have been formed. The reason is that the human brain is not fully developed until the age of about 21. Therefore, it is very easy for a young child to misperceive a situation, and create an unhealthy meaning around it (like a divorce or heated argument). Sadly children often make these issues mean something about them, because the alternative is that their parents aren’t who they thought they were (safe, role models..). So, they often turn on themselves and create a belief that they are in some way to blame. The most common limiting belief that I come across in the most of my clients is that, “I am not enough” or “I am unlovable”. This belief becomes the underlining context of their entire life, even if they are not consciously aware of it.
Let’s look at a typical example of the annual cycle of a person with the belief that they are unlovable. (This cycle could actually be happening multiple times throughout the year).
You can clearly see that the person is NOT addressing the root cause of their problems. They generally focus on cutting out the coping strategies, and wonder why they have no will power to stay off them. This just compounds the problem, because now they feel guilty or like a failure, and it confirms their belief – How could anyone love me…
If you are reading this and thinking – that’s me. Don’t be so hard on yourself! If you don’t know what the root cause is, then you can’t help falling into the trap. You certainly aren’t alone either, most people have limiting beliefs or some kind of emotional baggage – its what makes us human.
Thankfully there is a way of breaking free from this cycle – seek professional help. Why can’t I just sort this out on my own, you may be thinking? Well there are two reasons – firstly you are in it, and unable to be objective. Secondly the problem is unconscious. This means that no matter how positive or logical you try to be about solving it, your triggers will fire and you will most likely sabotage yourself when you are under stress (we are running those unconscious programs most of the time remember). The good news is that with modern day approaches like NLP and hypnotherapy, you can sort these issues out in just a few sessions, and you won’t even need to talk in detail about your childhood. But make sure you find the right practitioner. Someone that you can trust (a recommendation from a friend is always good idea, and check their qualifications & testimonials).
You really can let go of these beliefs and programs forever, but you have to be honest with yourself and make a firm decision that you have had enough. Invest in yourself and I promise you that you will never look back!
If you want more advice on achieving your goals this year, then get in touch!