'Tis the season of New Year's Resolutions.
People make them, and frequently they break them. Many center around a few general principles:
For perfectionists, New Year's resolutions are about being more perfect. They are appealing and natural, especially to those who rely on achievement as a means of self-esteem.
Many people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia recognize themselves in this category: we often measure our worth in the currency of how much we do. Yet the typical goals declared on January 1st of each year may be more unrealistic than ever. In his book, Don't Just Do Something, Sit There, Richard Eyre explains how some of the notions of traditional wisdom are outdated or inaccurate. He argues that we need new paradigms to "reflect our world as it really is, and our lifestyles as they really ought to be." This is particularly true for people who are disabled by chronic illness. Perhaps we need to rethink these annual goals and look to the New Year with a spirit of "Anti-Resolutions" — that is, to release ourselves from the obligation of things we are not able to do and consider alternatives more supportive of healing and recovery.
Let's look at some typical January 1st declarations and how they might be transformed to better fit the lives of people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia.
The "transformed" list of resolutions may look quite different from the traditional one. But is it any less important? And is it any less challenging? It's funny how determination and will power can be so difficult to apply in the reverse. We may know how to commit ourselves to goals and work to achieve them, but can we have similar determination to rest and to heal? Can our will power be devoted to "letting go"? Consider making your own such list of "anti-resolutions" that focus not on getting things done, but on improving your health and quality of life. Or you may not want to make any resolutions at all. This year, the most empowering declaration for us might be that we will make no resolutions, set no quantified goals, and rely on no concrete measures of success. Instead, we can open our bodies and minds to be healed and open our hearts to each day the best way we know how, listening to our bodies, and nurturing our souls. Even if we abandon every resolution we've ever made, perhaps we will start to experience the healing value of letting go.
— Lisa Lorden
January 26, 2003