Sacrifice. “They sacrificed their life for another,” a phrase used to describe heroes. We often feel the need to exchange one thing for another. We accept something is terrible for us because someone tells us so out of guilt or a desire for healthier living. We sometimes forget that for an old habit to be extinguished, a new one needs to be ready to take its place.
January is a month traditionally noted for sacrifice. We give up smoking, overeating, or any poor habit in exchange for a healthier mind or body.
We are well-known for our failures at these resolutions. 43% of all people resolving in January expect to die before February, with the majority abandoning all hope by the end of January. Approximately 9% will see it through to succession.
It’s funny to me why humans persist in repeated attempts to succeed despite all the stats to the contrary. Is this a sign we are a hope-filled people, striving over adversity, struggling each new day to improve ourselves? Or, I tend to think, it’s more likely we satisfy the guilt we feel over many things we do. We have an idea in our heads, taken from family, society, and social media influencers, that tells us what we are currently engaged in is wrong. That results in anxiety, a current buzzword for any negative emotion we may feel.
By setting a New Year’s resolution and stating it to the world, we are at least attempting. That alone puts us above all those failing wretches who aren’t even trying, and even though we expect to fail in thirty days or less, maybe even look forward to it so we can resume the original lousy habit, we feel better. At least we tried, we tell ourselves, showing others our effort, satisfying participation in even the most futile plan.
It is better to address why we conduct the original lousy habit first, understand our motivation, and then, the most challenging part, accept the consequences or change. It makes more sense to admit we do what we do because we like it, for whatever reason. The defense only needs to be justified by ourselves and no one else, and get on with life. Anxiety and depression have deep roots in the loss of personal control. Stating your resolutions on social media asks the world to judge and control you.
Being held accountable produces more success in diets and religious practices, but putting the burden of personal success on an outside source seems futile. I once asked a friend to act as my moral compass for a month. My motivation was to conduct maintenance to my standards. They agreed, mainly because they found it intriguing, and we were bored. It lasted less than three days before I called it off; they were uncomfortable critiquing my choices, and I found their judgment too rooted in Christian dogma.
In the end, I took the time to reflect on whatever actions were causing me concern, evaluated why I was doing them, and modified them. It is important to note I did not attempt to eradicate those actions. They were mine, defined, sharpened, and likely of some use to me in the future. You don’t have to use all the arrows in your quiver for a single situation. You can save some for later.
If you follow the same logic and find the action you are anxious over not only doesn’t serve you but has a replacement habit that does, then go for it.
Please don’t post it on social media unless it might inspire or uplift a reader. Those platforms are for self-glorification. Consider yourself to be worth more than a quickly forgotten post.