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New Year New Change

The festive season and Christmas can be a time of over-indulgence, and the New Year heralds a time for rejuvenation and new goals. For many this time is accepted as a phase and life carries on without self recriminations- even if goals set are not reached. However, for others feelings of guilt, and its partner self-loathing, can settle in and strangle out any joy.

Rather than succumb to possible guilt traps, like regretting drinking too much champagne, not sending out Christmas cards, missing a party, losing your patience, or failing to complete a personal development or self-help project, make a pre-emptive strike. Guilt is very corrosive. It zaps our energy and leaves us stuck, unable to make necessary changes to our life.

The first step is self-acceptance- not being perfect is okay. Making mistakes provides a wonderful learning opportunity so embrace errors because they help us grow- don’t blame or become self-critical as that is destructive and limits potential growth.

Second accept responsibility for your own behaviour and happiness- sometimes guilt is directed towards others with feelings of resentment or over compensation- but also recognise how others try to tap into our guilt feelings to meet their needs. A good exercise is to spot the ‘I should’ thoughts or statements. ‘Should’ implies an imposition or rule that if not adhered to creates guilt and resentment- try using ‘I would like’ instead. ‘I would like to stop smoking’ is much less prone to being guilt ridden than ‘I should stop smoking’, and recognises autonomy and control.

The third step is to confront your guilt feelings. What purpose does guilt serve? What impact is it having on your health, relationships and wellbeing. How would life feel without guilt? Lighter, less stressed, kinder…… you are moving to action.

The fourth step is to convert that negative guilt into a positive force, giving you energy to make the changes you want. Find achievable ways to reach goals, develop strategies or enlist help to make changes, and most importantly be kind on yourself and go back to number 1 and accept that you are not super human.

If you start the year with resolutions make them kind and attractive to you- not a ‘should’ but a want. Be specific about what you want to achieve and make sure you will know when you get there- have a clear outcome. Visualise reaching your goal, imagine the outcome, savour that thought. This ‘pre-programs’ your brain’s automatic processes which will help you get there. Wishing you a guilt free festive season and kind self-promoting goals for 2014.