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ELAINE BOND: ‘False hope syndrome’ – the reasons why we’ll quit our New Year’s resolutions by February

So that was Christmas and New Year… and for most of us it’s a time we look back at 2018, wonder what that was all about and vow to change in 2019.

We often want to lose weight, get a better job, make new friends, study or give up something like smoking, alcohol, meat etc. So, why do most of our resolutions only last to February?

We can get carried away with the wave of good feelings at New Year and decide to make massive changes. How many of us said “2019 is going to be the year that I ….” This is called the false hope syndrome, as we believe changing ourselves is easy and making a New Year’s resolution to do it will make it so much simpler than it actually is, but choosing January to make changes can make it very difficult.

Firstly, we have to look at “why” we make resolutions in the first place: this is because we feel we ‘should’ and then make our resolutions on what we think we ought to do, based on what the media tells us we should do – be thin, be fit, eat that, wear this and so on.

We don’t make our resolutions based on what we want to do or who we want to be. Inevitably this means our commitment to our resolution is limited by the lack of personal meaning it has for us. We will start with a bang and full of drive, but this soon wears thin, so it loses any meaning to us and, therefore, we stop.

EXPERT: Elaine Bond offers a counselling service in Gedling borough

Let’s be honest with ourselves because if something was important to us, it would be something we would be working on 365 days a year – and not just from a certain date.

We need to check how realistic our resolutions are as we often set ourselves up to fail because the goal we have in mind is a long way off, we don’t have a plan to get there but we just want the end product. So, if we want to run a half marathon for example, we would need a training plan, and build up to it gradually – run 5k, then 10k etc, but this is not how many of us think about our resolutions.

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You can change at any time in your life, but remember that it needs to be important to you and have some meaning for you. Maybe January is the month to work out what really you want whilst being kind to yourself.

There are a few things to try to help you find out what the real changes could be…

  • Do something every day that you love, even if that is to walk at lunch time or draw or sing. Do something that makes you feel good which helps you to access your thoughts and feelings about what is really important to you.
  • Give yourself credit when you do something well and try to silence the inner critic which is the one that would be telling you how badly you had failed at your New Year’s resolution. Practice kindness towards yourself.
  • Stop comparing yourself to the perfect airbrushed images in the media, find real role models and find your magic mirror which is the one in your house where you see yourself in a positive way. (All the others can be critical but not this one). Look in it once a day and find the positive. Start small with your hands or hair and then get on with your day.
  • Find things to be grateful for, even in this dull and cold month. It can be the people in your life, pets, sunsets or even the bus turning up on time when it’s snowing after a rubbish day at work. Gratitude will heighten your mood and again start the thought process about what is truly important to you.
  • Give yourself space and time to look at what is important to you. Maybe the resolution to be a size 8 by March is unrealistic and not what you really want whereas what is important could be being healthy. Then you can start to plan and put things in place, maybe in March or June whenever you really know the changes you want to make

Elaine Bond runs a counselling service in Gedling. You can contact her for advice or an appointment via the channels below

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Tel: 07769 152 951

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