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New Year’s Resolutions: Ignore or Ignite?

In only six months you will be thinking about your new year’s resolutions. Before doing so, take a moment and think about the resolutions you made at the beginning of this year. As you look back over the past six months, did you keep any of the resolutions you made? You can manage regrets so they don’t compromise your happiness. Your experiences this year, whether good or bad, shaped the person you’ve become because each experience teaches you something about your value system, your beliefs about your basic assumptions in life, and how much control you have over your world.  

First, identify your regret, get in touch with the feeling the regret engenders, understand the consequences of it, and be open to new ways of thinking about it. Focus on your personal strengths which can be beneficial as you manage your regret and put your regret in proper perspective. Turn your thoughts to the things you have learned from it and the opportunities that are now yours - even if they are not what you would have preferred.

Living with regret is not useless as it teaches you that the choices you make in life will have consequences. Future decisions are made based on the experience of past regrets. It is a learning tool that can also bring about spiritual awareness. To find meaning in the decisions you made this year you will need to find value in them (even the negative meanings of blame and shame). Move forward in the next six months while appreciating the value of the experience and what it has taught you about your life. Recognize that your regret helps you to understand the lesson learned that makes you wiser in your current choices. Engage in mindfulness strategies, work with the narrative, your story, and what it symbolizes and realize that although painful, possibly evoking sadness, it can help you to move forward.

Meaning making can be a shared experience.  Share your regret with others. Review your beliefs about the regret and let go of the negativity. Focus on positive coping and reframing. Don’t attempt to avoid the feelings. After you experience the emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and physical manifestations the regret engender, find meaning in it and what value is found in it, and finally recognize the connection between the regret and how you have grown from the experience so far this year.

Here’s a suggestion: Create two lists: 1. A list of those things you could have done differently this year. Are those things based on what you knew at the time or what you know now? 2. Make a list of your assumptions about the regret that might be incorrect. Consider being a flexible thinker. Restructure the way you think about the regret and look at it in a different way. Process your thoughts and actively problem solve.

Perhaps your New Year’s Resolutions were to eat healthier, get a better education, stop smoking, drink less alcohol, get fit, and get out of debt. Add this one to your list: For the next six months, start your day with positive self-talk moving you from the disturbing thoughts of regret and self-reproach. It takes your brain 21 straight days to form a habit. You can change the way you think about what you regret in that timeframe. Tell your brain that you will think positively about the regret every day for 21 days in a row. After 21 days you will start believing it. You can do it by visualizing the people in your life you feel close to. Create an image in your mind of your own personal routing section of those who truly care about you.

In only six months I will be blogging about New Year’s Resolutions. So, you have a choice: Ignore your resolutions or ignite your passion for keeping them.