Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New You?

I suppose this could be considered a continuation of my last post on New Year's Resolutions, but while that post focused on the change process, today I want to focus on what, specifically, our culture suggests we try to change as we turn over a "new leaf" for the New Year.

I'm struck by the catch-phrase "New Year, New You," seen in print and television ads (and of course, on line), linked with a plethora of products to help us "upgrade" to a newer, better version of ourselves. Many, if not most, of these products are related to weight loss (diet pills, appetite suppressants, scales, nutrition shakes and bars, pre-made low calorie meal plans, exercise plans or equipment, etc, etc, etc). Then, for those who don't want to lose weight, come the "healthy living" products - super foods, supplements of everything under the sun, probiotics, more nutrition shakes and bars, more exercise plans and equipment.... And of course, we have programs and advice for finding that "special someone" - books, events, and dating websites galore. I've also seen books and television clips on making more money, changing spending habits, communicating more effectively, getting a new job or get the idea.

We all get the idea: We're not ok the way we are, and if we're not working to change and improve...something...there's even more wrong with us.

I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of time trying to help my clients to feel better about themselves for who they are, the way they are. Sure, therapy is about change...but often about changing all the problems that have arisen from the client's belief that she or he is not ok, but inadequate, flawed, worthless, ugly, a misfit...etc. Indeed, one of the dialects in DBT is acceptance and change. The premise is that, while a sole focus on acceptance negates change, focusing on change without acceptance of oneself/the client the way one/she or he is can be demoralizing and interfere with change. Conversely, accepting oneself paradoxically makes it easier and less threatening to work toward change.

So, instead of a "new you" this year, considering trying out a new attitude toward the "same old" you. You may be surprised by the results!

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