Keeping Your Resolutions

How often have you made resolutions to change or do something different in your life? If you are like most people, your resolutions come free and easy. “I’m going to be nicer to my wife, children, parents, or friends.” “I’m going to stop smoking.” “I’m going to stop drinking.” “I’m going to enjoy my job.” “I’m going to feel happier about what I have.” “I’m going to work every day on this project until I finish it.” The number, type and frequency of your resolutions are astounding. What is more astounding is how many you do not keep. You make the resolution, and before you know it, you are back to the same old habits. Each time this happens, the Law of Limitations kicks in. This law simply states that you create your own limitations. You do this by saying that something is difficult, I cannot, it is tough, and so on. The fact is that saying that something is difficult makes it so. You create a belief that resolutions are hard to keep, and they become hard to keep. Yet, they are not as hard to keep as you might imagine.

Successfully keeping your resolutions revolves around several key issues. The first and foremost issue is that you are living in a world of yesterdays and tomorrows. You see yourself now and do not like what you see. This means that you are judging yourself and making yourself less than perfect. This means that you are living in a world of fantasy. Who you are is who you are! If you are a smoker, then you are a smoker. There is nothing good or bad about it. You simply are what you are. In fact, even this statement, that you are a smoker, is not accurate. You are only a smoker while you are smoking. When you are not smoking, you are not a smoker, but a non-smoker. Then, to stop smoking, all you need do is extend the time of non-smoking. However, the label of smoker gives you a Gestalt that says that you are addicted, and as such, it is difficult to quit. Instead of focusing on your non-smoking, you focus on your smoking. Your label of smoker sets up the groundwork for the Law of Limitations.

If you make a resolution, an issue in being successful is separating your resolutions into two categories. The first is called a Wish List, and the second is called a Desire List. A Wish List, as its name implies, contains things that you wish you had, but are not willing to put out the effort to make happen. You wish you had a best selling novel, but you are not willing to actually research and organize the information, write it and then do what it takes to get it published. You simply fantasize about it. A Desire List, on the other hand, is just the opposite. The Desire List is a list of desires. A desire is something that you are willing to work to get and to put out as much energy as necessary to make it happen. You want to write a book. Consequently, you put in the time researching and organizing the information. Every day you sit down and write for at least three hours, and you actively seek a publisher. You are doing rather than wishing.

Do you see the difference between a Wish List and a Desire List? The difference is so significant that it can make the difference between success and failure. A Wish List resolution will automatically lead you down the path of failure. You want it, but you are not willing to do, or accept, what is necessary to obtain it. Yet, most resolutions that are on your Wish List, you do not see as wishes, but as something that must occur. You want them so badly that they create an emotional bondage. What a trap you are setting.

When you make a resolution, give yourself a fighting chance. Make sure that the resolution is on your Desire List. One sure sign that the resolution is on your Desire List is if it is something that you want for you and not for pleasing someone else, or not because you think you should. This is your list. You must be honest when looking at it. If you want to stop smoking, make sure it is you who wants to stop, not someone who has talked you into it, or because you think you should. Make sure it is your desire and not society's. Make sure there is no tiny little voice saying, “No, I don’t really want to stop.”

Finally, items on the Wish List or Desire List can change between the lists. Just because an item was on the Wish List does not mean it will always stay there. The opposite is also true. An item on the Desire List does not guarantee that it will always be on the Desire List. Being able to really see which is which, you must have awareness of this moment and not hang on to the thought that this is on one list or the other. You must be flexible. You must be open. You must be in the here and now.

A third aspect of resolutions is that your mind will find a multitude of excuses, reasons and rationales for dropping the resolution and engaging in the old habit. These are some of the side effects that you must be prepared to meet. Your mind will oscillate between a yes to keeping the resolution, a no to ending it and simply forgetting it. Your mind will play games with you. You must recognize this as nothing more than a game that you can win. Of course, as in any game, the opponent will score some points, but this does not mean that the game is lost. It simply means that there is more to be done.

Once you begin to act on your resolutions, be aware of the withdrawal symptoms you may experience as you enter into your self-made contract. In other words, you may have to go through rough water before you are be able to sail on calm seas. Of course, the side effects are nothing more than momentary changes in your perceptions and/or physiology. They cannot make or force you to engage in the old habit. Each moment you choose your own behavior. When you are aware of this moment, you realize that what you are experiencing is momentary, that it will not last forever: the Law of Forever Now.

A great aid in winning this game is to understand the Law of Forever Now. When you are in a bad mood, your body is craving something, or you do not like what is happening. It seems as if that negative space has lasted forever. Not only that, but it seems as if it is going to last forever. The Law of Forever Now takes this moment and projects it into your past and future. There is no reality to it. It is a total mind game. Your mind plays a game with you in order to keep you locked into old habits.

Once you understand that the Law of Forever Now is going to occur and you have awareness of its occurance, you can win the game against it. This can happen because in reality nothing lasts forever. In fact, nothing remains the same for very long. What does happen is that when the negativity is there, you try to force it away. By using force, you create more of what you do not want. Once you let go of the idea of getting rid of something, its power to keep you locked in dissipates. Once you recognize that there will be side effects, and that they only last a short time, you will be able to advance toward your goal. Being aware of your mind games is critical in winning. One of the positive attributes of side effects is that they do not last forever, even though they seem to at the time. This is why Alcoholics Anonymous uses the concept of “one day at a time.” The only problem is that one day at a time is much too long. The slogan should be, “Take one moment, or one urge at a time.”

When making resolutions, which require you to give up something, you set a goal that says forever. Have you ever considered how long forever really is? It is a long time! The Law of Forever Now is once again at work. The moment you say forever, you create a state of deprivation. One of the side effects of deprivation is that it helps to create items for your Desire List. In fact, the greater the degree of deprivation, the greater your urge to posses or obtain that which you are being deprived of, until the urge becomes almost intolerable. You want something that you think you can no longer have. For example, you go on a diet. This diet says that you cannot eat sweets. Almost instantly, the thought of sweets enters your mind. Now you have to say no to all the sweet goodies that you like so much. The moment you say no, your mind wants them even that much more. Shortly, the desire becomes both mental and physiological. You are creating a deprivation state because you know you can never have sweets, and the concept of never becomes unbearable. In fact, you begin to see sweets everywhere. The next thing you know, you indulge yourself. The moment you do indulge, your contract of forever has been broken, and you think to yourself, “What’s the use! I’ve broken my diet.” You are now off your diet. In fact, when this happens, you reinforce the Law of Limitations by saying how hard it is to stay on your diet.

You stop smoking, and the first thing you know, you want a cigarette. The more you think about having one, the more you want it, and the more you want it, the more you think about it. Do you see the trap? Duration makes the trap even more difficult to escape. You are creating a state of deprivation, not just for this moment, but forever!

A key is to make your commitment for this moment, for this urge and no more. Not one day at a time, but one moment at a time. Your decision is not forever, but for now. This idea of now creates a qualitative difference in keeping resolutions. One of the beautiful things about this approach is that you are not locking yourself into a room with no exits. You have the freedom each moment to choose what you want and what you do not want. The key here is freedom and choice. You are free to choose whatever you want to do.

Freedom requires one thing of you. You must be aware that you are making the choice. When you are responding out of awareness, whatever you do is perfect. The secret is to be sure that it is awareness and not the Law of Least Effort that is controlling you. This law is so simplistic that it boggles the mind. When you are reacting to your environment, you do that which is the easiest to do. For example, if you want sweets and are experiencing withdrawal, it is much easier to give into your urge than it is to wait it out. If you are responding from a state of awareness, you know that the urge is there. You know that it has no control over you. You know that it too shall pass.

Resolutions are needed in order to break old habits. Habits are behavior patterns resulting from repetition and culminating in action without awareness. In fact, a large portion of the time, your behavior is nothing but habit. You are only vaguely aware of what you are doing. Eating while watching television, smoking a cigarette while talking to friends, having a drink while listening to music are examples of habit. You see someone you know. As you walk up to him you say, “Hello, how are you?” The greeting and question are asked even before you are aware of what you are saying.

Habits cannot function at the same time that you have awareness. Awareness is an essential ingredient in being able to make a decision each moment. If you do something before you realize you have done it, you have no opportunity to stop or change your behavior. If you have rationalized your doing something without awareness of the rationalization, then you do not have freedom and choice. Awareness is necessary.

Most people have made an attempt, at one time or another, to break a habit without success. The unsuccessful attempts have left a memory of how difficult breaking a habit can be. Yet, it breaking a habit can be very easy. What is difficult is your thought that it is difficult. The act itself is simple. Thinking about how much suffering, pain, discomfort and past failures you have experienced, makes breaking the habit difficult. This scenario illustrates the Law of Limitations. Forget the past, and begin dealing with the NOW, this moment. Deal with one urge at a time. Deal with each urge as it occurs. In this moment, there is no past, no history of failure, just the present urge.

Finally, you have numerous reasons why you cannot change the habit. You can easily recite them. What you cannot recite as easily are the reasons you want to change the habit. The reasons for changing are typically vague, or limited to one or two concrete ideas. Expand these ideas into a multitude, rehearse them, learn them and be able to see them in your mind, the reasons to change before you can even say why it is difficult to change. Then each time you are about to engage in the old habit, review your list of reasons for change. Being able to review your list means that you are creating a state of awareness from which you can respond to you and to your environment. Then, if you still want to indulge yourself, do so. However, you must do so with total awareness and no blame or guilt. You have made the choice.

If making and then keeping a resolution is important for you, then remember to make sure that your resolution is one that you really want to make. Know that the change you are going to make is not because the way you were before was bad or good, but just different. Remember that you will experience discomfort once you begin changing the habit. The discomfort may be extreme, or it may be mild, but it will be present. While experiencing this discomfort, remember that nothing remains the same forever. As bad as the discomfort may get, it will pass. Be prepared and wait it out. To help you wait it out, make your commitment to change on a moment-to-moment basis. You are not making a decision for the rest of your life. You are just not going to indulge this urge. In order for this to happen, you will need awareness of what you are thinking, feeling and doing. Then and only then can you decide whether you want to do it. The past is the past, so let go of it. Forget all your war stories. Concentrate on the NOW: your moment-to-moment decision. And last, write out a list of reasons to change. Read this list every time you want to engage in the old habit. By taking the time to stop and read your list, you will be approaching awareness, and the decision you make will be based on what you decide and not on the Law of Least Effort.

Ultimately, making and keeping resolutions is not very important. When you are aware of NOW, things just automatically happen. You are no longer trying to control who you are; you simply are who you are. Change is no longer an issue. You see your perfection in this moment. You remember that this moment is all you have, have had or will ever have. NOW does not allow for power trips, mind games or ego. NOW is to be enjoyed, enjoyed and enjoyed!

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