New Year’s tends to be associated with champagne toasts, kisses at midnight, and new year’s resolutions. It brings with it the idea that at every new year we have the chance to reset and restart with new intentions and a new way of being in the world. While the idea of being able to remake ourselves within the new year is very encouraging and in many ways true, since we always have the ability to change and grow, the general message of “New Year, New You” tends to leave out a very important part of self-improvement: self-acceptance.
Often times people begin the self-improvement journey due to the fact that they do not like themselves in the first place. They hate their bodies or their habits or the fact they can’t keep their house clean or complete everything on their “to do” list. As a self-help junkie myself, I get it. And as a therapist, what I have seen is that when people are unable to accept themselves as they are right now, when they start working towards making improvements, they beat themselves up. They get so down on themselves when they trip up, which is very likely to happen when beginning the work of changing habits. Or they hate that they are where they are and begin to feel hopeless. This often leads to them thinking they can never change, they suck, and then they quit. Or they reach their goals, but they never take time to celebrate those accomplishments because they are continuously striving for better and better. No reached goal is ever enough because they themselves feel like they are never enough.
When we begin to embrace our real, imperfect, and beautiful selves, just as we are right now, a powerful thing happens. We start to let go of our negative view of ourselves and we begin to believe we are enough. This helps us move into a place where we can keep working towards a goal even if we fail and we can celebrate our successes along the way. We are able to make improvements without self-hate, self-doubt, or the fear of never being enough getting in the way.
So, in the new year, maybe a change of mindset towards self-acceptance is the resolution you need this year. And this can start right now with the choice to start being kind, gentle, and patient with yourself during both your ups and downs over this coming year. But this too, like all habit changes, can be easier said than done. And I get it. Which is why this journey does not need to be done alone. A therapist, such as myself, can be a great help in working towards this goal of self-acceptance.
Written by Malinda King, MA, LPC
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