New year, new you? Goals, not resolutions, will help you move away from self-injury

At the start of every new year you find people asking “What’s your resolution this year?’ like it would be wrong not to have one. People will keenly tell you how they plan to get fit, lose weight, or start doing something they had been delaying. All of these things are about self-improvement on the surface. They sound positive, and the start of the new year can give people extra determination, yet for many it secretly adds extra pressure.

Pressure can be good where it leads to an increase in motivation, but it can also be unhelpful when the pressure increases stress. New year’s resolutions often look like wonderful ideas filled with hope and excitement, yet underneath they often reflect the things we feel we should be able to do right now, but perhaps do not really want to do, or are not ready for.

Footprints on the beach

If your resolution is something you have wanted to do for a while, but haven’t, perhaps that means something; perhaps by suddenly expecting yourself to be able to do it because it’s the 1st of January is setting yourself up for a fall. A fall followed by guilt, leaving you with more distance between where you are and where you want to be.

When it comes to setting goals we often want to set high, ambitious goals which reflect where we would like to eventually be; but sometimes it’s better to break them down. Goals are usually accomplished in small steps.

For many people who self-injure, there can be extra pressure that their resolution should be to ‘stop’ self-injuring. Moving away from self-injury however requires learning new coping mechanisms that can help you move towards change. Beneath self-injury is a complex web of feelings and thoughts, and what really needs prioritising is learning to take care of yourself. What if your resolution was to say something kind to yourself every day? What if rather than stopping yourself from self-injuring, you started trying something new in order to reduce your reliance on self-injury?

At LifeSIGNS we have lots of suggestions to help you; alternatives that you can try when you feel the urge to self-injure such as writing things down, the ‘Everything but rule’, or perhaps you could consider reading this before harming yourself. Adding something new, rather than taking something away, is more positive and hopeful – and if you have already been working towards changing or improving something within your life, do you really need a resolution at all?

This January, maybe you could look at your past resolutions that you still want to work on, and consider what steps you can take to turn them into achievable goals. While January is the first month of the year, and provides an opportunity for reflection, it doesn’t mean you have to magically change a part of yourself that you need more time for. The message we often hear in January is; ‘You have to become better, and you have to do it now.’ when really we are constantly working on ourselves in our own time, and at our own pace. Set yourself goals that suit you, when it suits you.

For more help, suggestions and advice check out our ‘Helping you’ section.

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