Since the birth of my little one I have tried to lose the weight I gained during pregnancy.
And every year I make a New Year's resolution. With great hopes and motivation. This time I will succeed. I will do whatever it takes. I will stick to my diet and reclaim my body.
So, I throw myself in. Cut out carbs, dairy, eggs, sugar, processed food. Force my family to eat kale. And sign up for the local gym. This time, I will go all the way.
But, the truth is, I hate every minute of it.
I crave carbs and chocolate, I detest kale and beat myself up for never making it to the gym. The constant feeling of hunger makes me grumpy and bitchy. And every minute of every day becomes a struggle to keep myself committed.
Usually, after a month (at the very most), I give up. Finding myself at the same weight I started within weeks.
Another failure. Well done me.
And I am not alone. Research has shown that, on average, 88% of New Year's resolutions crash and burn. Most of them within the first month. And almost everybody cites "lack of willpower and control" as the reason.
Leaving millions of us feeling like failures. Believing that we just aren't good enough to lose that weight, stop smoking and drinking, get that shopping habit under control or declutter the house.
The good intentions of the New Year's resolution become more proof of our perceived worthlessness and weakness. The failed attempt to improve our lives makes us feel worse about ourselves than ever.
But it's not us who is wrong, incapable or flawed. And it's not willpower we need.
It's something else altogether...
In his book "What are you hungry for?", Deepak Chopra suggests that we eat to satisfy hunger but we overeat if we feel unfulfilled. We are trying to fill a hole.
That gaping void in the middle of our soul that aches and bothers us daily, making us feel uncomfortable und incomplete. We don't know what causes it or how to stop it. But it's always there.
Lost for options, we try to fill that monstrous, scary emptiness with what we know will provide comfort and relief. Make us feel better. If only for a moment.
That's why we consume oversized portions of fatty and sugary foods, cigarettes and alcohol or mountains of useless possessions and purchases. As a result we are overweight, broke, suffocated by our clutter and unhappier than ever. Which increases the hole. And our cravings for more.
We are trapped in a vicious circle.
Now, the problem with our New Year's resolutions is that many cause additional deprivation. We deprive ourselves of food, cut out smoke and drink, deny ourselves the fix of shopping for more stuff. We eliminite the only ways we have to temporarily fill the all-consuming emptiness, outrun the nothing that tries to engulf us.
With every day of deprivation we feel more unsatisfied, anxious and irritable. We can sense the void lurking in the shadows. And we are unarmed. No piece of chocolate cake, fag or new pair of shoes to distract the beast.
And sooner or later we cave in. Facing the hole inside is just too terrifying. And it hurts too much.
It has nothing to do with willpower. Nobody can withstand the terrors of the emptiness in the long-term. It's too overwhelming even for the strongest of us.
The good news is though that there is another way.
So, diets and "cold turkey" approaches to controlling toxic habits can't work because the deprivation they cause enlarges the hole we feel inside. Which we then fill with even more food and damaging, unwanted stuff.
The only real way out is to fill the hole. For good.
In most of us, the hole we try to fill originates from lack of self-worth. The belief that we are entirely worthless, that we have no worth at all, leaves an unbearable, painful wound.
An emptiness we believe we can never heal. A bottomless pit of unworthiness we can never fill. We think we aren't good enough to earn or gain worth. Our failures, shortcomings and circumstances are proof of that.
And we are right. It's impossible for us to gain worth. Because the truth is that we ARE worth. Worth is the essence of our Being.
Our real problem is that we don't know it.
You see, our true, inner worth is unlimited, unconditional and inherent to us. It is always there. We ARE worth personified.
But we grew up in a society that believes that worth has to be earned through achievements, success, popularity and other people's approval. So, very early in our life, we started to build a giant wall to separate us from our own worth. From part of who we really are.
We locked our worth away until we forgot it existed.
All that is left is the devastating hole in our soul. And the pain of a distant memory, a faint sense that we should be more than we allow ourselves to be.
And we spend our lives numbing the pain, filling the emptiness and hurting ourselves in the process.
When the true answer to our problems is so easy...
Your worth is within you. It is YOU.
All you need to do is tear down that wall. Demolish the separation of limiting beliefs and damaging stories you inherited from your parents and Western society that hide the truth from you.
I AM worth. It's just this one sentence.
Keep repeating it. Affirm it as often as you can. Because every repetition will cause a crack in the wall. And once enough cracks have appeared, the wall will crumble. You will remember.
And the hole will vanish.
That's when you will be free to lose that weight, stop smoking and drinking or ditch that shopping habit. Because you no longer emotionally depend on it. You no longer need to fill the void that lack of self-worth left within you.
And your life will improve beyond what you thought imaginable. Without much effort, motivation or willpower.
So why not spend the new year tearing down that wall? Reminding yourself that you ARE worth. You couldn't spend your time any better.