Have you abandoned – and/or modified – your New Year’s resolutions yet? Did you know 95% of resolutions are broken by the end of January? So you are by no means alone if you are struggling under the weight of de-motivation.
I’m reading an interesting book right now that corresponds with the beginning of a new year nicely. As per usual, when I’m reading a book, I have to unpack all the thoughts that are piling up in my mind on that particular subject. And how do I unpack? To you, my blog reader.
The problem with resolution struggles is not our desire to change. I remember when Larry was first diagnosed with adult ADHD. I remember he read something in a book that resonated loudly with him – the concept that society keeps implying to someone battling ADHD that if they would only try harder they could accomplish their goals. This only exacerbates the cyclical frustration of the person not understanding why they can’t just stick to something and get it done. There might be some other factors (chemical imbalance, for one) that might be blocking us from success.
ADHD or not, we all fight with that aggravation within ourselves: 1. I’m disappointed in myself for not accomplishing what I set out to do… 2. This must mean I’m not capable of such lofty goals… 3. I knew I couldn’t do it before I ever began… 4. I’m so frustrated that everyone else seems to be getting it so much easier than I am… 5. I quit.
As a society we have accepted the idea that if we merely muster enough willpower to do something, then we’ll be able to reach the finish line.
You know the drill.
James Bryan Smith (author of The Good and Beautiful God) states:
The will is neither strong nor weak. Like a horse, it has only one task: to do what the rider (the mind, influenced by the body and society) tells it to do. Change happens when these other influencers are modified. When new ideas, new practices and new social settings are adopted, change happens.
We change not by mustering up willpower but by changing the way we think, which will also involve changing our actions and our social environment.
Smith goes on to discuss the narratives we all possess in our minds. I’m sure that’s not a new concept to you; we have all heard or read about the negative talk in our minds.
But knowing it – and following it – are sometimes two separate entities in my life. I don’t know about you, but I would assume there are a few of you like me out there.
Think about a play that you’ve seen in which a Narrator was the guiding direction for the entire production.
Player #1 says something.
Player #2 replies.
Narrator interprets what they really felt or meant by what was audibly said.
“And now we see Greta, sitting at her computer typing, wondering if that second piece of pie would truly do much damage….”
“Greta ponders, as she applies those various make-up products, if age is something to embrace or fight against…”
The Narrator somehow has the inside track.
The Narrator knows what the actors are thinking.
The Narrator sees the script and relays the backstory as the current scene is being played out.
We all have that Narrator lurking around in our minds.
Reminding us of what we were…
Magnifying what is…
Foreshadowing what is to come.
The real task for us is to break the 4th wall, as they say in the theater.
Walk out on the stage of our minds and hook the Narrator around the neck and drag him off stage.
Insert new characters in your story: postive ones. Ones that support you and believe in who you truly are.
Allow an antagonist: a person who will challenge you to think beyond your normal patterns.
Swoon over the hero of the play. Gravitate toward those persons who loves you heroically.
Be good to the main character:
Give yourself a director’s chair with your name on it.
Demand coffee and rose petals in your path.
Re-write some lines.
Hire good editors. People who will re-write part of your thinking.
We cannot change simply by saying, “I want to change.” We have to examine what we think (our narratives) and how we practice (the spiritual disciplines) and who we are interacting with (our social context.)
We do not need to live perfect lives. Let yourself off the hook on that one. We cannot; nor are we expected to. Jesus covered that one for us. On our behalf. All we have to do is look at Him and say, “Yeah. What he said. I’m with Him.”
What we truly desire, what we are most passionate about, will determine how we organize our lives.
If you’re trying to make some changes to your life in 2011, you might be focusing on the wrong thing and therefore beating yourself up about undesirable outcomes. Perhaps in order to change that habit you need to change some other things first: your environment… your reading or media intake… your sleeping habits… your refridgerator contents…
…your thought patterns.
Be good to yourself.
I’m willing to bet that changes (resolutions) will follow.