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  • Alisa Stamps

The Anti-Resolution and Other Thoughts

This is my first blog post in which I am venturing away from the theme of “narcissism”. Though who knows, there may end up being a touch of it in here accidentally. What I really want to talk about is how much I dislike the idea of a “New Year’s Resolution”. I hate them as much as when we are asked to go around the dinner table at Thanksgiving and share what we are thankful for. Forced inauthenticity is how I see it and I do respect those who may not agree with me. I just cannot bring myself to follow those “rules”. Maybe it comes from years of feeling like I had to follow them in order not to risk feeling different.


We all know what happens this time of year…it’s the time when ads tell us everything that we can do to “make ourselves, our bodies, our minds, our wellness better for the new year and decade”. It’s the time when the gyms fill up again, when everyone vows to “do more”, and when the diet industry is in its finest glory. Why? Who decided that this was what we are to be subjected to as the calendar flips to a new page. And what if we don’t want to play this game anymore? What if we don’t want to conform to these imposed social norms?


What is a resolution anyway? The dictionary, or whatever it is that defines things on line, states that a resolution is, “a firm decision to do or not to do something” or “the quality of being determined or resolute”. Okay. So then when did it become the thing to declare a resolution on New Year’s? Why do they have to do with being as nearly perfect as we can? History.com states that, “The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions some 4,000 years ago. They also made promises to the gods at this time to pay their debts and return objects they had borrowed. If Babylonians kept their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year”. Alright. That makes sense. Who wants to go through life with the gods angry with you? No one needs that kind of judgment. But what about in this day and age and the judgment we place upon ourselves if we are not able to keep our lofty resolutions?


Forget perfection. I say resolutions can be about making mistakes, and learning from them. I say they can be about trying new things and failing authentically, and getting back up, however ungraceful. I say they can be about making peace with your body—no matter what the size. And holding tight to boundaries that you put in place to protect yourself. And then making choices based on your needs, not the needs of others. Or society. I say this is the time to begin to learn how to love yourself, so that you can be ready and present to love others.


I read a quote once about what would happen to the diet/beauty industry if women were actually taught how to love and accept themselves. That entire business would go bankrupt. Let’s make that happen. Let’s work together to learn how to love ourselves so that the beliefs of others cannot affect us. Let’s learn how to stand in our truth, even if sometimes we are the only one standing there. Let’s do this for our sons and our daughters. Let us be a mirror for them—a mirror without judgment, and only compassion. Let’s ring in the New Year with this promise, or at least the promise to try.


Something that I have been trying to promise myself is take the time to read more poetry, especially poems that weave in nature and earth. So I will leave you with the end to the Mary Oliver poem, “Starlings in Winter”:


“Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,

even in the ashy city.

I am thinking now

of grief, and of getting past it.

I feel my boots

trying to leave the ground,

I feel my heart

pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.

I want to be light and frolicsome.

I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of

nothing,

as though I had wings.”


Wishing you and yours a light, frolicsome, and mistake-filled Happy New Year!




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Alisa Stamps, MSS, LCSW

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