They create vision boards, brainstorm and set goals. Resolutions and good intentions fill journal-pages and hopes and dreams stretch as far as the eye can see. They plan to hit the ground running – determined to achieve big things! And if that’s you – fantastic! 🤩
But for many others, especially those of us with a history of trauma – New Year can feel stressful, overwhelming and well, just too much.
We’re flooded with news, social media posts and emails from all corners, with messaging about re-booting our lives, taking control, creating goals all so we can do better, be better – and succeed at life. And sadly, much of our society feeds into this idea that we must be continually striving for bigger, better, more..
It’s a lot! And can leave us with feelings of futility, hopelessness and dread, fueling the old belief that “I’m not enough as I am”.
And, even when we do set intentions, there’s a limit to how many times we can step outside our comfort zone, take risks and try new things, especially if in the past, or in our childhood, that meant we were unsafe.
I’d set the intention to increase my regular workouts, to build strength and increase stamina. But – on New Year’s Eve 2021, I tested positive for Covid. It hit me pretty hard. By the time the virus had run its course through our whole family and I was back up to full-speed, I’d missed my workouts for the whole of January. I felt like I’d failed for the whole year – a downward spiral and mindset which took a lot of effort (and Tapping!) to shake!
I know I’m not alone in experiencing this kind of setback. According to recent data, over half (54%) of people who set a New Near resolution fail or quit within the first month.
And according to a recent study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology…
These all seem reasonable enough right?!
Why is it that when we start something new, or begin to move our life forwards in some way, it can feel like we’re running into a brick wall, getting knocked down by one obstacle after another.
It can be so frustrating, because although we may consciously know that we’re safe in the here and now, to pursue things we want in our lives, our body and nervous systems are still responding to the traumas that happened to us back then.
Just like me with my 2021 goal. Yes, I knew consciously that it was safe for me to build strength and tone and to look and feel better. And yes, I had Covid. But – and this is the really important bit – there was something else going on too…
If I was more toned, my unconscious fear was that I’d be more visible, more exposed. More open to un-wanted attention and advances and an increased threat of attack, abuse…just like back then.
And so, if there’s one thing I want for you to begin to understand today it’s this:
Whenever we find ourselves repeatedly setting goals and NOT achieving them – it’s because our past trauma is colliding with our present-moment life. There is some un-resolved fear or block underneath.
But the great news is that it doesn’t have to stay this way. We don’t have to stay stuck in the futility and struggle. We can find ease, and that’s where my 5 top Tips come in! ☺️
Think about one thing – a goal or intention that you’d like to focus on in 2023. Maybe it’s a goal you’ve set many times over but never quite achieved before.
When you think about that thing, notice your reasons for wanting it. Maybe even write them down. Imagine achieving it. Perhaps it’s eating more healthily, spending more time in nature or building more intimacy with your partner. What does it feel like to imagine having that thing? My guess is that at first it feels pretty great!
Sit with that great feeling for a few moments. Notice if it feels expansive in your heart or chest. Maybe you feel flutter of excitement…
Now, notice any constriction or tightening creeping into your body as you think about achieving that goal or doing that thing. Is there any fear? Any dread? Any memories?
Say out loud:
“If I achieve _____________ then ______________ ” and fill in the blanks.
It could sound something like:
“If I get that pay rise I’ve been wanting, I’m scared that my partner will feel jealous because I’ll be earning more than them. And what if my friends ask to borrow money from me…I remember my dad’s anger when I began earning more than him…”
“If I finally write my book I’m afraid that people won’t like it and will judge me…it feels easier to keep putting it off, rather than face their criticism, even though I feel like I keep letting myself down. I want to do it, but I’m so scared to fail.”
Notice how there’s a wanting the goal, but a not wanting it at the same time. This push pull in opposite directions is what can keep us feeling powerless and stuck.
Now that we’re uncovered some of the underlying blocks and resistance to achieving our goal, we can use it to help us Tap.
When we name what we’re really feeling beneath the surface, we empower ourselves.
And when for example, we can reassure our body and Nervous System that earning more doesn’t have to create dis-harmony in our life, we release those blocks so that we can move towards what we really want.
Or in my case, as we Tap and clear the fear that looking and feeling toned is an invitation for unwanted attention, we can finally reclaim our body as our own and nobody else’s!
I know it can be tough, but when we do this deep healing work using Tapping – we release the old blocks and resistance, making it much more possible for us to reach our goals and create the life we want – on our own terms! 😀
When you read the Top 10 goals list above, did you notice how generic it was? It included things like “lose weight, travel more, read more…” Yes this is a starting point. But unless we get really specific about what we’re wanting to achieve, how can we possibly know when we’ve reached our goal?
So, if your goal is to lose weight – how many pounds do you want to lose and by when? If it’s 30lbs, the whole amount may feel overwhelming or like a mountain to climb. But, if instead you say something like:
“My goal is to lose 30lbs at a safe and sustainable rate of 2 lbs per week and I can achieve that in 15 weeks. So if I start now, by the February I’ll be halfway there and by April I will reach my goal!” Pretty awesome, no?!
Or, if you want to learn a language, instead of saying “I want to learn Italian”, which is very open-ended and vague, you might want to get more specific by saying:
“I want to learn conversational Italian this year. I will spend 15 minutes four times per week on online learning and I will join a group class once per week where we meet and practice with other people.”
The more specific we get, the greater the chance of us staying on track.
I don’t know about you, but any time I set a big goal like “organize my home” I immediately feel overwhelmed. My brain starts panicking about how to do the whole thing. Kid’s old toys and clothes to donate, clutter to clear, books to organize…where to begin? Nowhere! I freeze and do absolutely nothing!
But what I’ve found really helpful over the years is to break big goals down into the tiniest pieces possible.
So, “organize my home” becomes “organize one shelf of one bookcase this week” which is much less overwhelming and way more manageable!
And the final idea I wanted to give you today is:
Have you ever set a goal or really wanted to do something – perhaps get to bed earlier or read a few pages of a book each day? But you never told anyone? Life’s demands get in the way and before you know it, that goal or good intention has drifted to the back-burner?
One of the best ways to avoid this happening to you is to build accountability in to your goals.
For me this looks like texting my hubby each time I finish a workout. And as a self-employed entrepreneur, it also looks like having online project planning software and an online buddy to help hold me accountable to deadlines – a particularly tricky one for me at times, with no boss to check on my progress! 😉
But I wonder what this accountability piece might look like for you? Perhaps a someone to go to the gym with? Or a friend you join a book club with? Or even reading trauma-healing books or chapters together with a friend or your partner.
But what if it doesn’t have to be this way?
What if we can view the New Year as an opportunity to go inwards, to center ourselves and re-focus on what truly matters to us most.
Take a moment right now to pause. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and turn inwards as you ask yourself:
“What do I most want or need right now?”
“What is the next right step for me in this moment?”
Not what do I think I SHOULD do…
“What mindful intention or theme would I like to bring with me into this New Year?”
Perhaps you might want to move your body more, or prioritize rest. Perhaps you do want to learn Italian!
And so I encourage you today to choose ONE small thing on the way to your bigger goal. One that you can do today to move your life in the direction you want to go. It could be drinking one extra glass of water or walking outdoors for 5 minutes.
Whatever it is, it’s yours. Your goals, your year, your life to live in your way and on your terms.
I believe in you and know that if you take it one, tiny step at a time, you can move into the life you want and deserve.
Sending you love and my very best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2023! ❤️
Thank you for these helpful suggestions! I am feeling inspired, as I had wanted to set a goal of learning Serbian language this year, and thought that perhaps I could learn one or two words each day. But I like your suggestion of doing 15 minutes four times a week much better along with finding some one to practice one a week! This sounds much more doable to me..I am feeling optimistic now as I recently chose to organize one room a day over a five day break and actually got three rooms completely done. I am still working on the fourth room and taking it one pile at a time while keeping the rooms I finished clean and neat. It’s funny how it’s easier to release the past once I get started and do a little more each day. Have a wonderful 2023 Karen!
Oh how wonderful Mary! I’m so happy the tips have been helping you. How are you doing now, a few weeks in to January? 🤩
Amazingly help ful. Thank you Karen!
You’re welcome Suzanne! I’m so glad you found this helpful. ☺️