New Year’s Resolutions: Do They Work?

One of the beautiful things about the New Year is that it traditionally makes us feel like we can start over, improve on what was not working, and gives us an opportunity of “letting go” of what went wrong during the past year.  As 2018 was approaching a few weeks ago, I reflected on all of the things I just mentioned.  I listed the people, things, events, and work that served, or didn’t serve me in 2017.

{Amy Jaffe with Saza in Chiangmai, Thailand – 2017}

I made New Year’s resolutions last year, as I do every year, and I had to force myself to recognize that I can’t remember one year that I stuck with my resolutions religiously. I gave many a good try, but I have not been fully committed after the excitement fades. Last year was another one of those years.

Here were a few of my 2017 resolutions:

  1. Develop better communication skills, and be clearer about my own needs.
  2. Develop a regular yoga and meditation practice.
  3. Be more aware of my body weight, diet, and exercise. Plan a diet that fits in with my life and body. Lose weight, and exercise on a regular basis.

Do any of these look familiar to you?

These are some common resolutions that I hear quite often, and I jumped on the bandwagon last year on all of these.  At the end of the year I actually celebrated one of the resolutions regarding my weight, diet, and exercise.  I lost over 40 pounds last year that had been creeping up on me the past 6 years, and I feel great!  I’m on the treadmill at least 5 days a week, and my diet is mostly gluten free, vegetables, a few grains, and vegetarian.  I have kept my weight off all year and grateful to feel healthy and whole.

Now, for the “not so celebrated” resolutions….

What kind of feelings do YOU go through when you reflect on your failed commitments?  Do you feel like a failure?  Do you believe you shouldn’t try again because you just know you’ll fail again?  My feelings are similar, AND the feeling of fear rises up when I want to try them again.  How can I be better at these commitments?  Why are these resolutions so important to me? And how can they become habits?  I am sitting with all of these questions and feelings, and ready to stand up and move forward with the desire to keep trying.

Brené Brown is one of my teachers in life, and two of her books, “Daring Greatly” and “Braving the Wilderness” are my new bibles.  At the end of every year I beat myself up with guilt because I did NOT stay committed to my New Year’s resolutions.  I am a perfectionist at heart and mind, and when I am not perfect …. the guilt and anxiety take a hold of me.

“Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.”
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Where do I go from here?

I am setting my intentions and resolutions again this year!  My intention is to follow Brené Brown’s advice and focus on healthy striving in my life.  I am one of the hosts of Indrani’s Light Foundation’s “Caring for the Caregivers” podcast.  Indrani Goradia, Jeremie Miller and I publish a bi-monthly podcast to support our Caregivers who work as staff members in domestic violence shelters.  (Available on iTunes)  In our newest episode for 2018, the three of us discussed how we can reflect on our current self-care practices, and plan for new ones as an important step in being intentional about our self-care.  We also talked about what practices worked for us in 2017, and which ones need improvement in 2018.

I am excited about starting this New Year free from guilt and shame, and acknowledging that intentions and striving for a healthier life is what my New Year’s Resolution will be!

I would love to know if this blog and our podcast episodes have been helpful for you this first month of 2018.  What have you learned so far?  Have you freed yourself of guilt, and discovered your New Year’s Resolutions?

With gratitude,

Amy

Amy Jaffe | Director of Education & Outreach
Indrani’s Light Foundation

Caring for the Caregivers: A Meditation for the New Year – Episode #14

Join Indrani for a meditation to help prepare you for the new year. This meditation will help you get grounded, then send peace and compassion to yourself. Once you are feeling at ease, you can then send the same peace and compassion to others.

Caring for the Caregivers: 6 Tips for Taking Care of Yourself and Focusing on Self-Care During the Holidays – Episode #13

Prepare for the holidays by listening to these SIX self-care tips from Amy, Jeremie, and Stacie.

Learn how to plan for your “you time” ahead of time, how to use your boundaries and values to navigate difficult conversations, the importance of gratitude, and three more tips in this episode of the Caring for the Caregivers Podcast.

Episode Time Codes

00:00 Introduction
02:03 Stacie Kenton Introduction.
03:26 Scenario
04:15 Jeremie – Plan for your “you time,” ahead of time.
07:10 Discussion about Planning your “you time,” ahead of time.
07:45 Stacie – Show some gratitude.
09:37 Discussion about Show some Gratitude.
11:56 Amy – Boundaries and values.
18:42 Discussion about Boundaries and values.
20:50 Jeremie – What positive emotions do you want to experience?
23:55 Discussion about What positive emotions do you want to experience.
27:25 Amy – Saying No.
33:12 Discussion about Saying no.
36:50 Stacie – Assume everyone is doing their best.
39:42 Discussion about Assume everyone is doing their best.
43:46 Conclusion
45:05 Volunteer Suzanne Holman shares two tips.
46:20 Volunteer Alyce Jurgenson shares two tips.

Links and Resources mentioned in this episode

BOOK: Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

LINK: Positive Emotions List

BRAVING:

B – Did I respect my boundaries?
R – Was I reliable?
A – Did I hold myself accountable?
V – Did I respect the vault and share appropriately?
I – Did I act from my integrity?
G – Was I generous towards myself?

Vaikhara Mudra

(Source: Mudras – For Healing and Transformation by Joseph and Lilian Page)

Caring for the Caregivers Meditation – “Are your expectations leading to sticky situations?” – Episode #12

If you aren’t setting clear boundaries, and communicating your expectations, you are going to find yourself in conflict. Indrani shares a personal coaching message about setting and dealing with expectations at work and at home.

Caring for the Caregivers: Sacrificing Holiday Time for Coworkers – Episode #11

Holidays can be stressful. Family, friends, extra expenses, and finding time to get everything done, while trying to enjoy yourself, can push you to the edge.

A coworker at the shelter asking you to switch shifts, or give up your holiday time, only adds to this holiday-madness and stress.

In today’s episode Indrani, Amy, and Jeremie discuss three tools you can use to have a conversation with your coworker, stick to your boundaries, and still protect the relationship.

Episode Time Codes

00:00 Introduction.
00:43 Scenario.
02:05 Amy – Guilt and shame triggers.
07:28 Discussion about Guilt and shame triggers.
13:16 Indrani – Working from your strengths.
19:50 Discussion about Working from your strengths.
24:40 Jeremie – What happens when you don’t set boundaries.
29:30 Discussion about What happens when you don’t set boundaries.
34:05 Conclusion

Links and Resources mentioned in this episode

VIA Strength Survey – Free
Going to the Movies – Episode #3
Going to the Movies – Episode #5

Caring for the Caregivers Meditation – After a tough conversation – Episode #10

In the last episode you learned some tools you can use for having a tough conversation with your supervisor. After having that tough conversation your brain is going to be full and your emotions running high.

Use this meditation to get to a place where you can properly review the meeting and make decisions on your next steps.

Caring for the Caregivers: Feeling Guilty When Saying “NO” to Your Supervisor – Episode #9

When you want to make an impact on people’s lives, it can be hard to say “no” when asked to help. But what if providing that help will end up hurting you? In this episode Indrani, Amy, and Jeremie share three tools you can use to say “no” to your supervisor, without feeling guilty, when asked to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing.

Episode Time Codes

00:00 Introduction
01:02 Scenario
01:50 Amy – “I want to be perceived as…”
06:04 Discussion about the “I want to be perceived as…” tool.
08:06 Jeremie – Delivering a “Yes. No. Yes?”
12:41 Discussion of the “Yes. No. Yes?” tool.
16:50 Indrani – Self-care: Press pause and think about your answer.
20:50 Discussion of the “Press pause and think about your answer” tool.
28:10 Conclusion

Links and Resources mentioned in this episode

The Power of a Positive No: Save the deal. Save the relationship – and still say no

Natural Disasters Perfect Storm for Domestic Violence

What happens when a family is in turmoil from domestic violence and a natural disaster hits?

(Photo credit: KPCC Radio 89.3)

An increase in violence

In circumstances like these I have not seen any agencies speak up about the increased violence that is likely to happen.  If victims do not seek help before a disaster, there is even less help available during, or after a disaster.  The stresses on the victims become more acute and the rage and lack of control of the abuser can skyrocket.

Violence affects one in three women globally and stress can increase the levels and the frequency of domestic violence.

More time at home = More violence

Let’s think about it logically.  If an abuser has a job and is out of the home 8 to 10 hours a day, there is a chance that the other household members get a reprieve from screaming, name calling and physical violence.  The children may have a few hours after school to feel a little “freer,” and may be able to even forget their circumstances for awhile.  Intuitively the kids know when the abuser is most likely to be home.  They have an internal clock that turns on when “stuff” is about to happen.  The parent at home is likely to give verbal cues such as, “Be quiet, you know your father/ mother does not like noise.”

The children may begin to curtail their childish ways and begin to try to behave in more acceptable ways.  It really does not matter what they do as the abuser does not need any reason to explode.  The abuser is the explosive and is watching and waiting for any reason to allow the explosion to burst.

If this happens when the abuser is only home for a few hours, imagine what happens when the abuser is home for days on end.  Days on end with NO water or electricity, or distractions, and a house of scared children and an equally scared spouse will raise the levels of abuse in significant ways.


(Photo taken by unknown publisher)

How can communities help these families?

We can be vigilant for behaviors that are disturbing in the youngest and most vulnerable.

We can be vigilant for outward signs of physical abuse.  We can be brave enough to alert the authorities if we see or feel that things are amiss.

We can live by the adage, “See something, say something.”

Remember, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Will you be the one to step up and be the change you wish to see in your world?

With gratitude,

Indrani Goradia
Indrani’s Light Foundation | Founder

Caring for the Caregivers Meditation – “Settling What Feels Unsettled” – Episode #8

There are many events, challenges, and problems causing unsettled feelings these days. Whether you are feeling unsettled at work or at home, listen to this meditation and visualization from Indrani to help you balance these unsettled feelings.

Caring for the Caregivers: Dealing With a Lack of Appreciation and Gratitude Part Two- Episode #7

You put a lot of passion, love, and effort into supporting your clients at work, and your family at home. It can be challenging (and very emotional) when the people you are helping don’t say “thank you” or show any gratitude for the support and energy you give them. In this episode Indrani, Amy, and Jeremie share three more tools (in addition to the tools shared in Episode #5) you can use to change your perspective when someone doesn’t show you appreciation.

Episode Time Codes

01:08 Introduction
02:33 Scenario
03:15 Indrani – Bring self-compassion into the formula
06:36 Discussion about self-compassion
14:55 Amy – Practice Critical Awareness
20:46 Discussion about using Critical Awareness
25:48 Jeremie – Find an “Appreciation Buddy”
28:13 Jeremie – Think about a “Future State”
30:24 Conclusion

Links and Resources mentioned in this episode

LINK: Episode #5 Dealing with a lack of Appreciation and Gratitude Part One
LINK: Episode #5 A Meditation on Self-Kindness
LINK: Kristen Neff’s Self-Compassion Test
LINK: Affirmation Checklist