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Why new year resolutions often don't work

Change

If nothing changes, nothing changes

So how are you doing with the new year resolutions that you made? Keeping them up nicely or struggling? Expert Senior Hypnotist, Zoe Clews, shares a very interesting insight into why our subconscious tries to derail our resolutions and what you need to do to make big changes:

In the build up to New Year, all the changes we want to make can feel exciting but when it actually arrives, those resolutions can feel more than a little daunting. Where do we start to begin tackling all - or even some - of those unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving that we are so eager to transform?   

This can be especially daunting if we have a previous history of dumping resolutions on the scrap-heap before the month is even out! When we see this happening, we have a tendency to get heavy with the self-reproach, which of course never helps anyone. Whatever we beat ourselves up for doing - or not doing - we often continue to do - or not do - more of that very same thing. Guilt, unfortunately, seeks punishment.  

So, what to do? How can we support ourselves to not only make those changes but to allow those changes to become fully integrated into our way of relating and behaving on a daily basis?    

Well it's helpful to understand 'why' first of all - recognising that it starts with the subconscious and that it's useful to understand the subconscious mind's 'take' on New Year resolutions.  

The reason that New Years resolutions often don't work on their own is because we have subconscious resolutions not to change. For every conscious resolution - to lose weight, banish fears of public speaking, stop haemorrhaging money, quit procrastinating or avoid flying into jealous rages at your partner - there are unconscious commitments to keep things exactly the way they are.  

The subconscious mind is all about safety so whilst the jealous rage, phobic response, binge eating, intimacy aversion may not make any sense to you on a conscious level, your subconscious mind is running these patterns in order to keep you safe. These patterns would have been established at some point way back in your life history at a time when these responses were genuinely perceived by your subconscious mind as defences and responses to keep you mentally, emotionally and physically safe. We don't develop self-destructive behaviours because we are weak-willed, we develop them because they serve subconscious needs and beliefs. No matter how unhelpful or inane our behaviours can seem, they provide a sense of unconscious safety and changing them can feel threatening to the deeper mind.  

For example, we can say to ourselves "I will stop binge eating", without understanding that the binge eating serves a perceived purpose in order to squash down and repress uncomfortable feelings. However, without the drug of choice - in this case food - the uncomfortable feelings eventually rise to the surface and, without support, can feel at the very least difficult, at worst impossible to tolerate. The brain wants to return to a state of perceived 'normality' and so without support, a return to the bingeing, or an alternative replacement "anaesthetic", occurs, accompanied by an all-too familiar inner barrage of self-reproach!   

The truth is we need two things to make big changes that we have struggled to master on our own: firstly support and secondly a compassionate curiosity to the real forces that motivate the behaviour that inhibits and resists our development and growth. The subconscious mind needs not only to be included in any changes you are making, but it also needs to feel that it is safe and vital to make these changes.  It needs to be in agreement. If you don't create the proper internal or external support to make the change, then all the factors that brought you to this unhelpful habit will return.

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