Written by: Amanda Cressman, N.D.
The New Years is generally a time of reflection and creation of goals and plans for the coming year. 20 years ago I created a resolution of sorts with myself and have been asked to share it here. It’s one I have spoken about numerous times in my office and I hope it may be of interest to you, if you’re reading this.
When I was 19 years old, I was in my first year of university and was doing my best to be successful in all aspects of life. I was in a science program that was challenging, living in a dorm with lots of people and away from home for the first time. To give you more context, I didn’t know it then but I was a perfectionist…or at least on the spectrum – expecting the best from myself and frustrated and embarrassed when this wasn’t achieved. I had a ton of friends…I literally was invited to 50 weddings in 7 years. I was that girl…the girl everyone was friends with, who floated easily between cliques and groups of friends and somehow made connections in them. I was about 30-40 lbs heavier than what I am now and I went to each of these weddings alone…single which was difficult but was my reality. I share these details to help you gain more understanding as to why this resolution was created.
So, one day in the Math Building at University of Waterloo, I got back a calculus test and didn’t do well. I did ok, but ok was never enough for me, it needed to be great. I was known as the ‘smart’ girl growing up and not achieving well in school shattered this core part of my identity. Upon getting the mark, I did what I always did in times like that….I went for it…and began criticizing and basically yelling at myself. My inner dialog was mean, harsh, shaming and malicious. And it didn’t just stop at not achieving the mark I thought I should have, it was relentless and began attacking my body, my personality, every shortcoming it could see, it attacked. In those moments I would freeze, almost like a child receiving punishment, waiting for it to be over….for my sense of worth to be trampled on before moving on with my day. But for some reason, something was different this day. I was struck with a new thought, that this behaviour was hypocritical…that if I were to talk to any of my friends the way I talked to myself, that they would be appalled and I would have no friends. For some reason, this dissonance was very unsettling and wasn’t ok. I have always strived to be authentic as best I can and this was the opposite of that.
So, I did something that was very un-me. I went out shopping and spent money on myself. I bought myself a ring as rings had represented something very special to me – the symbol of worth. And instead of waiting for someone to give me this gift, it was time to give it to myself. So, I bought myself a promise ring and made a commitment to work at being my own friend. Each time I would catch myself criticizing or judging myself, I would rub my ring and say, “What would you want your best friend to say to you?” and I would say it to myself. It was actually really hard for the first bit and was challenging as trying to be an authentic person…the compliment felt very inauthentic. But I kept with it and 20 years later, I’m on my 3rd ring with the compliments finally feeling easy and becoming more of my natural narrative. It’s still a process, one that needs attention and care but changing anything is just that…a process.
New Years Resolutions are a wonderful symbol of the desire to change but a game plan is needed to implement the change on a day to day basis, especially when it really counts. I am so grateful for that moment in the Math Building when the realization that the narrative had to change to ensure I was being authentic and able to lead a kinder and happier life.
Happy New Years to you and hoping whatever resolution you have created, that it’s one that creates health and well being for you on all levels.