We’re fast approaching 2022 and like many people I’m starting to think about what I’m going to change for my New Year’s resolution. Will I start sea swimming? Go vegan? Stop eating crisps? I’ll be honest I have tried (and failed) at all of these in the past and it seems I’m not alone. 

According to YouGov.co.uk, only a quarter of Britons who made a resolution for 2020 succeeded in keeping their promises. Either starting well, then grinding to a halt after a few weeks or waking up on Jan 1st, deciding it was all too much, and not starting at all.

So why is it that, despite all our good intentions and our hopes to change our lives (hopefully) for the better, many of us don’t manage to stick to our promises? 

Well, change is actually one of the hardest things we will ever have to do as human beings. I don’t mean short term, brief change that fades out after a few weeks, I mean long term, sustained change which benefits our long term future. 

This is a really well researched area and psychologists now know a lot more about the reasons why change is hard for so many of us. As a Solution Focused Hypnotherapist, what stands out for me is that the human brain isn’t motivated by negative emotions. It’s easy to think that emotions such as, fear, guilt, shame or anger can be the starting point for change in us, however the opposite is true. Such emotions will almost certainly make us think about the things we are not doing, or not quite doing right, but they do not make for good fuel for lasting motivation. 

Many studies support this and consistently prove that strategies for change which are hinged on fear or regret are the least effective. So telling ourselves that our bodies aren’t good enough or berating ourselves because we feel guilty for eating chicken isn’t the answer.

In fact psychology says we need to be coming at it from a different direction. In order to make significant, lasting change we need to launch from positive, self-edifying reasons and focus on the rewards we might gain from exercise or the enjoyment we might get from cooking new meals.

This year 1 in 5 Britons say that they will be making a resolution for 2022. If like me you’re one of them, remember you’re more likely to succeed if you’re kind to yourself and focus on the positive rewards your change will bring. 

Finally, if it doesn’t work out for you this year – remember that failure is an important part of the change process and there’s always 2023!

Ruth Berry 

Mind Health

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