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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A New You for the New Year

With every New Year, most of us resolve to make a fresh start. From weight loss to financial gain, we find that one area in our lives that appears to be the source of all our problems and vow to fix it. High on desire and low on motivation, most resolution seekers quickly lose interest and fall back into old patterns. The secret to their “un” success is this: False advertising coupled with a desire for a quick fix, will have anyone believe that you can isolate one area in your life, change it, and then watch as everything else magically falls into place. For more reasons than one this is far from true. Every problem you face is the sum of all your parts and the sum of all your parts includes the sum of all your problems. I know that sounds confusing, but it really makes sense.

You can not successfully resolve a personal issue by isolating that issue from the rest of your life. For example, losing weight is not just about exercise. Anyone who is physically fit will tell you that you have to alter your entire way of life before you can alter your dress size. Your diet must change. The way you buy groceries and casually eat out with friends must change. You have to develop a high tolerance for temptation, and a willingness to try new things with respect to your health. If you truly resolve to lose weight, you’re really resolving to become a different person.

The same theory holds true with respect to finance. Focusing on making one hundred thousand a year will not make you wealthy. Beyond being driven enough to acquire such a sizable income, you have to have the financial skills to manage your profits. If you’re squandering all that money on an expensive lifestyle, instead of saving or investing you might end up acquiring more debt than wealth. As mentioned earlier, fixing one area of your life will not magically fix the rest. Self improvement requires you to not only highlight your issues, but understand the connections between them.

Following the example of weight loss, consider an overweight woman who spends the majority of her time dieting. She has gone through every plan imaginable, but with little improvement. After a week of successfully sticking to her diet, she rewards herself with a bucket of ice cream. The next week she gets back on her dieting plan until a fight with her boyfriend leaves her feeling sad and in need of something tasty. In the midst of a problem or as a reward for good work she eats, but somehow she can’t make a connection between her addiction and her inability to lose weight. She continues to diet, unaware of her addiction to comfort food. Before weight loss, this woman must acknowledge the areas of her life that affect her weight gain.

As for you, rather than falling victim to the New Year’s Resolution bug, begin your year by answering the question, “What is the sum of all my parts?” This is a tricky question, with many possible meanings. But don’t worry; you have all year to figure out the answer that is right for you.

For those of you interested in a new level of self improvement, consider including the following mantra into your daily regimen: I will not overprotect, reject, or neglect who I am. I will strive to introspect, reflect, and perfect who I have become.

I will not overprotect, reject, or neglect who I am.

To overprotect yourself is to close yourself off from new experiences in the belief that change will produce pain or reintroduce the pain of a past experience. Do these words sound familiar, "I'm not doing that, I can't go through that again. No one will ever hurt me like that again." These phrases are common signs of self overprotection. Avoiding every new experience is equivalent to having no experiences at all. Let yourself live! Afterall, that's what life is for.

To reject yourself is to become your worst enemy. Signs of self rejection are verbal abuse - "I suck, I'm so stupid." Self destructive behavior - "Why go looking for a job, when I can drink with friends." And disregarding your dreams and aspirations in the belief that you are destined for failure. Irregardless of what others say and the hand that life has dealt you, be your number one fan!

To neglect yourself is to place the needs and desires of the external world before your own. One sign of neglect is an inability to say “no”. You take care of your friends, your family, your job, everything else but yourself. This can often lead to over extension. Spending most of your time fixing other people's problems, leaves little time for you to solve your own. Take the time to spend time with yourself.

I will strive to introspect, reflect, and perfect who I have become.

Introspecting involves listening to the little voice inside, which reveals your fears and desires. What are your insecurities? What are your dreams? What is holding you back? What drives you forward? These are the types of questions that shape who you are.

Reflecting requires you to mentally go back in time. What are your life lessons from last year? Have you learned enough to avoid repeating those mistakes this year? It’s easy to fall back into old, negative patterns when you forget the experiences that helped overcome them.

Perfecting oneself is completely relative, interactive, and ongoing. It is relative in the sense that you can never compare your perception of perfection to the ideas of someone else. Self improvement requires social interaction. You must be comfortable with positive criticisms, and flexible enough to work on your flaws. The process of self perfection takes place in every conversation you have every day of your life. In this respect, it is essentially an ongoing process.

After fighting with depression and my own demons, these are the concepts that got me through. These are the ideas that I pulled from God, friends, family, and personal revalations. I'm still working on me and hoping that some other soul out there is working on themself. Self love is essential.

Happy New Year,
LHenry (

This article was originally posted on Brown Gurl, Black Thoughts by LaShanda Henry


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