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A Different Kind of New Years Resolution

By: Lynwood C. Wheeler, PhD, ABPP

Information on this page should be utilized as a guide, not medical advice. If you feel you need to speak with someone regarding behavioral therapy or counseling, please contact Connections to make an appointment.

 

This is the time of year when many of us evaluate what we can do differently and make resolutions about how we can improve ourselves. By now, most of you may have become frustrated and given up on following through with your resolution. However, if you are still in this process of self-improvement, I have a suggestion that may sound somewhat paradoxical. As a way to improve yourself, focus on others and show love to them. Okay, I know I’m starting off sounding like a Hallmark card/movie or the lyrics to a Beatles song, but please stay with me.

I was reminded of this recently as I spoke with someone I know. She discussed her niece who has special needs. This young lady has some disadvantages that make life more difficult for her, and she doesn’t have the ability to do a number of things that we take for granted. She currently is in high school, which can be a very difficult season of life, and she is often made fun of and teased. This young lady, though, in spite of these “handicaps” and hardships, is consistently encouraging, kind, loving and non-judgmental of others. For the individual I was talking with, she considers her niece a beacon of hope and someone that she wants to model herself after.

Coming from my Christian worldview, when this woman told me about her niece, I thought of how God consistently used people in the Bible who were broken and flawed. He used people that had physical disabilities, such as speech impediments and people that we may not think would be “used by God” like prostitutes, people who committed adultery and even people who had other people killed.

As we look at self-improvement in this new year, it is very important to recognize that being loving and compassionate to others doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect or have it all together. These biblical examples give all of us hope that we can be used by God and be a blessing. In addition, it is not “all or nothing.” We are human and there will be times that we are not “our best self,” and it is important that we can have grace and mercy, not only with other people but also with ourselves.

A very consistent thing, though, is that when we give to others we, ourselves, feel blessed. You’ve probably had times when you did something for another person that may not have been convenient for you, but afterwards you felt more positive. Thus, a somewhat paradoxical way to work on self-improvement and feeling better in the coming year is not to focus on ourselves but to focus outwardly.

There is nothing wrong with making goals of wanting to eat healthier, exercise more or save more money, but I encourage you to not make all of your goals strictly about yourself. The challenge is to make some of your goals about encouragement, kindness, love and also being non-judgmental. I feel certain that you will feel the personal benefit very quickly.

 

Information on this page should be utilized as a guide, not medical advice. If you feel you need to speak with someone regarding behavioral therapy or counseling, please contact Connections to make an appointment.