By Lauren Josten, MA, PLPC
Ah, the New Year
The start of something new
A fresh start,
A new beginning
A brand new something or another
Whatever you wish to call it:
Happy New Year to you!
And how often have we each heard
Shortly after this exclamation:
“What’s your New Year's resolution?”
The excitement of something new
So forcibly stripped and reoriented
Inevitably away from the celebration,
The potential of the new year with its unknown feelings and unknown outcomes
And forcibly toward something more tangible,
More serious, stressful:
The ideal that we must continue to do more.
We may as well just ask,
“What’s your plan to be happier by being more productive?”
Before I go on
Let’s not pretend that productivity is useless
Productivity keeps us moving–it creates focus
It certainly helps to create and sustain a life force
The forward momentum that we have come to reliably value
More than many other resources available to us
Such as those stereotypical therapy ones:
Meditation, connection, slowing down to feel.
“Where’s the forward momentum there?”
“What am I working toward by slowing down?”
Ah, yes. Welcome to the United States of America.
While I cannot answer this specific dilemma
As each response would and should be quite individualistic,
I can offer a question to reflect on in turn:
Why must you move forward?
Our society attempts to
Create forward momentum
By creating backward ideals:
“I can feel better, calmer, if I just work harder.”
But let’s get more specific, and
Let’s talk about one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions in the US:
“I can feel better, calmer, if I just lose weight.”
The old reliable tactic
The ongoing battle
The seemingly endless vacuum
That is information on how to lose weight
How this is the year
Those before pictures will finally
Yield those “after” results
I have personally worked with dozens of individuals
Fighting this very battle: the one between will power and the body
But in time realizing they are actually fighting something
They didn’t realize they were actually at war with:
The raging inferno that is the fight between who they are, and who they wish to be
Though this is a rather large concept:
The relationship one has with oneself and why,
It is one we all battle, whether consciously or not
And often times it manifests most clearly
In the angry thoughts we hold toward the way our bodies
Look, feel, seem, act...
The anger we can hold toward how they “work.”
“Why do I have to feel this way?” “No one else feels this way.”
“I shouldn’t feel this way.” “I can’t be tired yet.”
“Ugh, how do I still not have a thigh gap?” “Why did I eat so many Reeses?"
This relationship we have with our bodies
Can offer a glimpse into the true world of our uncertainty
“Who am I really, and how does my body reflect this?”
And why is it my body has to be
A mirror for the world to see?
What is it about what is happening inside my body
Whether in emotion, sensation, or physically
That drives me up the wall
And leads me to make changes
And how closely tied is this
To my own personal sense of value?
It certainly begs the question,
How is my relationship with myself,
even if these goals aren’t met?
What does my external body need to show
in order to reflect how I want to be seen internally?
Does being fit equate to being driven, motivated, successful?
Does being unfit equate to laziness, boredom, shame, or guilt?
How might I be trying to solve my inside problems
By “fixing” my outsides?
While exercise and nutrition can be vital components to leading a healthy and happy lifestyle
It is important to not lose sight of what is also important:
The relationship we hold with ourselves.
May your New Year be full of happiness and connection–both with yourself, and with others
And may your resolution be to move toward greater self-cohesion and acceptance
Versus toward another plot to take yourself down.
And while certainly not all of us struggle
Between the relationship between the body and the sense of self,
My hope is you will consider these reflections of true motive,
As you continue to ponder your relationship with productivity.
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!