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Resolve to Re-solve

December 28, 2018

 

We have once again reached the time when many of us resolve to work on some aspect of our lives in the new year. It seems to me that the most common problem with New Year’s resolutions is that when realize we have forgotten or failed at them we give up and give in to the habitual patterns we were hoping to change. But what if resolving to be a better version of ourselves in the new year means committing to re-solving habitual patterns as often as necessary, perhaps even multiple times per day, to make slow and steady progress? And what if slow and steady progress on our most habitual patterns is the work of a lifetime than a single year?

 

John Gottman, the renowned marriage researcher, distinguishes between solvable problems and perpetual issues. An example of a solvable problem in a couple’s life is agreeing that the toothpaste should indeed be squeezed from the bottom up. A perpetual issue in marriage is a persisting difference in emotional expressiveness, affection, values, or living patterns. Every marriage has several perpetual issues, but it turns out we also have perpetual issues within ourselves—habitual patterns we have carried most of our lives that defy easy or quick resolution. These kinds of patterns are precisely the ones we often choose as the focus of New Year’s resolutions.

 

A brief look into the history of the word “resolve” reveals that it comes from the Latin verbresolvere, which meant to loosen, dissolve, unyoke, undo, or set free. Our most difficult and long-enduring patterns do seem to be rigidly established in our minds and behavioral habits. Setting ourselves free of these patterns is indeed a matter of gradual loosening, which requires replacing and all-or-nothing—succeed or fail—mindset with a willingness to return again and again to:

  • acceptance of the slow process of change, and

  • our intention to keep moving toward a life less encumbered by small-self patterns that block our ability to live from our higher self.

 

If we resolve to re-solve in the new year, how do we carry that out? What would it look day by day? For me, it begins with a commitment to daily quiet meditation time, which gives me what I call “I contact.” My problematic habitual patterns come out of my small self (i). Quieting my body and mind in prayerful meditation allow me some daily contact with my large Self (I). It is this large Self that is capable of meeting my shortcomings with self-compassion rather than self-loathing and is always willing to move forward with re-solving—loosening and setting free—by saying: “Let’s begin again.” And it is this large Self that is always aligned with the Great Self.

 

Here is a nested meditation from Now is Where God Lives on an idea that appears across several spiritual traditions—we all have two versions of self, i and I (or self and Self):

 

 

i’m drunk on myself.

 

 

i’m drunk on my Self-

limiting thoughts.

 

 

i’m drunk on my Self-

limiting thoughts

but i’m drinking still!

 

 

i’m drunk on my Self-

limiting thoughts

but I’m drinking still-

ness now from an inner Wellspring.

 

 

From Now is Where God Lives: A Year of Nested Meditations to Delight the Mind and Awaken the Soul   copyright 2018 by Kevin Anderson

 

Wishing you and yours all the best in the New Year, including gentleness, self-compassion, and persistence in all your daily re-solving!

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All writing excerpts on this site copyrighted by Kevin Anderson.  For permissions, email wingedlifeinfo@gmail.com

Crecopia moth photo in header used by permission of Scott Rosenfeld, scottrosenfeldphoto.com