The Holidays Are Over – Now What? Let’s Set INTENTIONS Rather Than RESOLUTIONS!
By Candace Plattor, M.A.
If you are the loved one of someone with an addiction – and even if you’re not – I know that many of you may experience the holiday season as the most difficult time of the year. Even with all the upbeat TV commercials, heartwarming family shows and romantic movies, and all of those bright, shiny lights around a tree or a menorah, sadness often fills many hearts. I’m sure there are plenty of you who are breathing a sigh of relief now that this is over for another year.
But – for those of you who are consciously wanting your lives to be more peaceful and enjoyable, who are willing to do the inner work it takes for that to happen, you may be asking yourself “What now? How
do I continue on this path to making myself happier and my life holistically better?”
Learn How to Pat Yourself on the Back:
First of all, I’d like to strongly suggest that you pat yourself on the back for surviving yet another potentially stressful time. If you have been codependent for much of your life – meaning that you put other people’s needs ahead of your own AND do everything possible to avoid conflict – you have undoubtedly experienced your share of trauma in your life. This is often how codependency begins and flourishes. I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you that this CAN change – I am living proof.
To begin, hold your arm out in front of you. Now, turn your palm up. Then bring your arm back behind you, over your shoulder. And PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK – a few times!
The Difference Between Resolutions and Intentions – And Why This Is Important:
To start the New Year off in the right direction, I have a suggestion we can all follow if we’d like our lives to be different.
I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not really a fan of New Year’s resolutions, as so many millions of people seem to be at this time of year, all across our planet. What I prefer to do is look at what my intentions are. How would I like to see things change – and – what am I willing to do to make that happen? For me, there is a big difference between those two ideas: A resolution is something we think we should do, while an intention is something that feels right to us from the inside, something we actually want to do. An example of a resolution might be to quit smoking or lose weight. Yes, we may want to do these things, but most of the time something like this comes from the outside in – other people telling us that this would be good for us to do. An intention, on the other hand, is about a deep desire that we feel inside, something we know would help us feel better about ourselves.
Understanding the difference between making a resolution and setting an intention can save us a lot of shame, guilt, and over-all heartache. To set an intention, we need to look inside, to become quiet and listen
to our own inner voice. What do we really want – even if we’re afraid we might not be able to have it? What would make our lives richer and more peaceful – what will help us feel like we’re on our own unique path?
A place to start could be to set an intention to be more gentle with ourselves, to know that as humans none of us will ever be perfect. Taking better care of ourselves holistically – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually – can, for some people, mean choosing to let go of perfectionism and instead to learn from our inevitable mistakes so that we can stop shaming ourselves mercilessly for them.
Could 2023 be the year you make that beautiful, self-caring choice?
Maybe you’d like to eat healthier foods and exercise more, not because you think you should but because you believe you would respect yourself more if you did. Maybe you want to do daily crossword puzzles or read at least one book every month to keep your precious mind sharp. Perhaps seeing a counsellor to better understand — and then eliminate — your codependent tendencies might be a wonderful idea. Maybe you’d like to check out yoga, or meditation, or join a spiritual community of like-minded people – again, not because you should but because you feel called to do that. This new year could be the time to reflect more deeply and listen to your inner wisdom, doing what feels right for you even if no one else in your life understands why you’re doing that!
Self-Care Leads to Self-Respect:
I’ve been alive for a while now – I’ve had Crohn’s Disease for nearly 50 years, have overcome the resulting 15-year opioid addiction, and have currently been clean and sober for over 35 years — and this is what I now know to be true: In order to respect ourselves, we need to take good care of ourselves in a variety of ways. We need to believe that we are worth doing that. If any of you don’t fully believe that right now, that’s okay. We can start from where we are. We can all set the intention to practice better holistic Self-Care so that we can come closer to that amazing goal of Self-Respect.
In my opinion, self-respect is THE most important thing we either have or don’t have, and no one other than ourselves can give it to us. It’s an inside job. I lived under the radar for a very long time – not believing in
myself, not really feeling any respect for myself. I was like a caterpillar slithering along the ground, desperately trying to play small so no one would notice me – primarily so that I wouldn’t be criticized and judged by others like I was in my family of origin. And then one day, like any good caterpillar who yearns for more in life, I knew that if I didn’t change, I would just shrivel and die. So, like the caterpillar with a life-sustaining instinct, I created my own version of a sac of “bug juice” and sat in it, recovering from my own codependency and developing a deeper understanding of my life lessons. And then miraculously — or so
it seemed – I emerged as a butterfly. I’m not even sure when or how that happened, but I’m so glad it did. And I know that everyone has their own Butterfly Potential – we can all do this – if we have the intention to do so.
So… What’s Next?
If what I’m saying speaks to you, maybe you can set your intention to become an awesome, beautiful, vulnerable-yet-strong butterfly in 2023. All we have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, taking the best holistic care of ourselves that we can in each moment, one day at a time.
It might even feel really good to do that.
I hope you’ll all join me on this wondrous path of self-respect. Yes, we can do it alone, but it’s much more fun to share this journey with others who have the same intention. I wish all of you an amazing 2023, starting right now!
Candace Plattor, M.A., is an Addictions Therapist, author and speaker, specializing in working with the family of people who are struggling with addiction. As a former addict with 35 years clean and sober, Candace knows that overcoming addiction is a family condition: everyone in the family is affected by addiction and everyone needs to heal. www.LoveWithBoundaries.com