Why the promises we make to ourselves before the New Year don’t work and how to make our dreams come true—we’ll find out with psychotherapist Vera Yakupova, candidate of psychological sciences and founder of the Good Point psychological center.
Every New Year we dream that next year we will definitely lose weight, finally learn English, find an interesting job, get married and we will give birth to a child or, conversely, we will get divorced and go to live in another country.
We make promises to ourselves and make wishes. But nothing happens. The first of January, the first of February, the first of March comes, and the sky does not fall to the ground, the kilograms do not melt, children are not born, and the English textbook continues to treacherously become covered with dust.
Let's figure out why New Year's vows don't work and how to make our wishes come true.
Why on January 1, our promises turn into a pumpkin
We must understand that our promises before the new calendar year are largely a social story, which is fueled by the film industry, social networks and our habit of starting ” new” life from a certain date.
Social expectations push us to want something from or for ourselves. And beautiful diaries invite you not only to take stock, but also to write grandiose plans for the next 365 days.
It seems that January will begin and for some reason it will become easier for me to go to the gym, not be late for meetings or give up sugar. But changing the numbers on the calendar itself does not make this task any easier. A stylish diary is only a good tool that helps to structure thoughts, but by itself it cannot initiate any changes or activities.
At the same time, we live in a culture that does not really recognize the emotional side of life. From childhood we are taught that if you want something, you just need to get together and do it. Culture does not push a person to ask questions: why do I need this, what is stopping me if I haven’t done it yet.
Man is not such a simple creature that a purely mechanical approach – “take it and do it” – will work with us. We will not gather our will into a fist and start pumping up our abs just by clicking.
Yakupova Vera Anatolyevna expert
Psychotherapist at the Good Point psychological center.
For this, more compelling reasons are needed – a clearly formed need, self-regulation skills and some kind of internal work with what is stopping me, why resistance arises. A person can do these fine adjustments to the psyche independently or with the help of a psychotherapist.
But how can you revise your desires and make sure that the most cherished of them come true? You won't believe it, but there is a clear algorithm that will help you put things in order, including your New Year's goals. And it is based not on some laws of magic, but on the laws of the human psyche.
How to make wishes correctly so that they come true
STEP No. 1. What is my true need
Before you make a wish, you should clearly understand what your true need is. Why should I play sports, what will a child or learning Chinese give me? I need this for what? Here you can get to the bottom of some very interesting things. For example, I want to go to the gym three times a week to become slim or to be loved or not to be abandoned. These are all very different stories, and some of them are not about sports at all.
Ask yourself the question, what needs do I have that are unsatisfied, what do I want to satisfy with this desire? Maybe it's the need for development and interest, or it's the need for intimacy and affection. Or maybe it’s the need to gain physical endurance.
Desires will be fulfilled and goals achieved when they satisfy our true needs. At this moment we become motivated to do something. And if we don't have enough motivation for an activity, then maybe the problem is not that we are too lazy, but that it is not our real goal.
< h2>STEP No. 2. What's stopping me
The next step is to try to understand what is stopping you. Perhaps you don’t really need this thing, maybe you don’t have the physical and moral strength for it now, or you haven’t fully understood its significance for yourself. In this case, no promises and oaths will work, even if we write a wish on a piece of paper, burn it and drink it along with champagne as the chimes strike.
Perhaps you are held back by the fear of making mistakes or the fear that nothing will work out. Or it seems that you will spend a lot of effort, but nothing will change. Maybe you are already living at the limit of your capabilities and a conventional gym will squeeze the last out of you.
For example, you dream of giving up sugar, but in reality, chocolate is almost your only joy now. Or you dream of quitting your job because it’s a toxic environment. But you are worried that you won’t be able to get a new job. Try to have a sincere conversation with yourself, avoiding self-criticism.
Most people are aware enough to understand what they really need. We know when our weight becomes really overweight, when we really should get out of a destructive relationship. These thoughts and stated needs are important in themselves, but they are not enough.
There are many hidden layers in the psyche that can cause resistance – some difficult feelings or problems with regulation. Working with these more fundamental things takes up most of the time in psychotherapy or if you are helping yourself. The actions themselves are easy, as soon as we put things in order in our psyche, they will then automatically line up.
Remember, when you know exactly what you need, you go and do it. You make an appointment for your child to see a doctor if he gets sick, buy a new phone if the old one breaks down. If you know what exactly needs to be done and why you need it, if this is your real need, then organizing the action itself is simple.
STEP No. 3. What can help me
The “take it and do it” approach doesn’t sound like this at all: what can help me? What can make the task easier, how to create conditions to make it easier to do. For example, it’s difficult for me to go to the gym, but I can do ten minutes at home. Or I can manage my diet if I order some kind of food delivery service. Or the support of my friends can help me – they will believe in me, and I will be able to get out of a difficult relationship. It sounds simple, but rarely comes to mind.
Keep balance and move towards your goal step by step
Our psyche is a very intelligent instrument; it will never waste energy on something that is not clear whether we need it or not. Maybe we should move in a completely different direction and satisfy some other desires. So an academic degree, which a person goes and goes for and still doesn’t get, may actually be the desire of a grandmother, who would be pleased that her grandson defended his dissertation. But the desire of the person himself is not there.
Activity always stems from a need. If something stops us, then no energy will flow there. Look at the balance: if the balance is in the direction of what stops, then we will not do anything. And if you move towards what attracts, then your goals will be achieved. At the same time, of course, some moments will always stop us, but in order for energy to flow into action, there must be fewer braking moments than those responsible for desire.
And another important point: many complex processes do not fit into one year, so initially you should not set goals like “in twelve months I will have a new family and a child.” It’s not a fact that in a year you will get the final result, but here it is important to celebrate some milestones along this path and the very fact that you have embarked on it.
Praise yourself even for small steps, that today you are already at a different point relative to the start. Shift your focus from achieving your goal to how you feel: how I feel when I move in this direction. For example, I like that I have more friendships that nourish me, or that the place where I live suits me better.