At this time of the year, every commercial, magazine and half of Twitter is obsessed with “New Year, New Me.” While the intention behind this topic may be noble, it sends the message that we aren’t actually good enough as we are. For people struggling with eating disorders, this can be particularly poisonous, as it reinforces restriction and overexercising while stigmatizing those who live in larger bodies. By insinuating that we need to change the way we are right now, this overlooks our accomplishments – whether that be over the past year or over the course of our lifetimes – and devalues the very traits that make us who we are. Maybe this year, you relied on resilience to overcome loss, depression, or trauma – does “new year, new me” mean you should shirk the characteristic that has actually empowered you and strongly informed your daily life? Or maybe this year, you actually cut back on exercising because you realized it was being used to compensate for what you were eating and was developing into a maladaptive pattern of behavior. Does “new year, new me” recognize the strength it took to not only build awareness around this behavior but then to actually change it?
I like to think of resolutions as something that builds off qualities you already possess or experiences you have already had. If you spent 2019 advocating for others, make 2020 about advocating for yourself. If 2019 meant a new job with longer hours and less time for pursuing your passions, make 2020 about taking a pause to do something for yourself again. If 2019 meant changes in relationships, make 2020 about establishing new connections and reinvigorating old ones. If 2019 feels like a year you’d like to forget, make 2020 a year about processing what made it difficult with a trained professional and figuring out how to make this year different.
Resolutions should be used to reflect on the past and make changes that are more in line with your values. Over the next few weeks, think about your strengths and accomplishments and how you can accentuate them even more in 2020 and who will be by your side as you do so. Remember: you don’t have to do this alone.
Kate Burns is a therapist with Empowering You, specializing in eating disorders. She is currently running an outpatient group to support women with eating disorders. Please contact us today if interested in support