Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?
Most people have! What better time to start on a new path than the New Year? But have you made New Year’s Resolutions in the past then failed to change your behavior?
I have! It starts out so well, doesn’t it? You’re determined. You wake up everyday and make a firm commitment to meet your goals. It works for a while then, without noticing, you start making excuses and revert back to the old behavior, don’t you?
“I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.“
“It won’t hurt to have just one drink.”
“I’ll only buy one pair of shoes instead of putting the money in savings”.
Then before you know it you’re back to your old ways! It’s frustrating and disappointing because no matter how much resolve you had on January 1st eventually you still fall short.
Why does that happen?
It’s because most of the behavior you’re trying to change is related to unresolved grief. You have to let go of the old before you can let in the new!
What Do You Mean?
The most common New Year’s Resolutions are what we call STERB’s or Short Term Energy Relieving Behaviors. They are activities that provide short-term distraction from negative or painful feelings.
- When someone makes a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight or eat healthier, the STERB they are using is food.
- When someone makes a New Year’s Resolution to quit drinking, the STERB they are using is alcohol.
- When someone makes a New Year’s Resolution to spend less, save more, or follow a budget, the STERB they are using is spending money or shopping.
Other popular New Year’s Resolutions are quitting gambling, smoking, drugs, video games, spending too much time on social media, and the like.
In and of themselves STERB’s are not bad. The problem arises when you use them to avoid painful feelings.
For example, say you feel sad so you have a drink to “take the edge off”. Would it be more accurate to say that it’s not the drink you want as much as you want the sad feelings to go away? Having a drink isn’t bad. Having a drink to avoid your feelings can be.
So how do I let go of what’s holding me back?
The first step is to take an honest look at what you are trying to avoid. When did you start using the STERB?
I used to gamble a lot. I would stay up all night playing poker. I didn’t sleep, lost money and felt bad about myself. It got to a point where I wanted and needed to stop. When I looked back, I realized I started playing poker after a very painful break up. Another time I gained 25 pounds after a close friend died because I started eating junk food to avoid the grief I felt after his death.
What STERB’s do you use and when did you start using them? If you make an honest assessment, you will see that a loss event triggered it: was it a bad break up, did your pet die, did you move, lose a job, did someone die, do you have an overwhelming feeling of sadness, but not sure why?
You see, STERBs do work, but only temporarily. Eventually the food, drink, or shopping stops working and you’ll be faced with the feelings you wanted to avoid in the first place. No one wants to feel bad. Since your STERB used to work you start using it more and more. Eventually you partake so often that you know it’s time to quit. So you make a resolution to stop, but find your resolve isn’t enough.
When you are honest about what you’re avoiding, you’ll have a greater chance of sticking to your New Year’s resolutions.
The Grief Recovery Method will show you how to get complete with your past so you can stop using outside things to make yourself feel better.
For more info on how to get complete with your past and stop your negative behavior from controlling your life, click here.