Warning: You may deeply and lastingly reconnect with your free, joyful and true nature

Why New Year's Resolutions Don't Work for me - and something else that does

I used to make lists every December of the things I wanted in the coming year. They were usually pretty similar, year on year .....

1. Lose half a stone
2. Cut out sugar
3. Swim three times a week
2. Meet love of my life and settle down
3. Double last year's income....

And so on......

How successful do you think I was? Not very. Yes, I did manage to cut out sugar for a week or so. I never met the love of my life..... and while my income went up a bit, it didn't exactly double. And the swimming? Well, January is just too cold for swimming pools, don't you think?

The other thing I noticed was that I wouldn't feel very good about myself. In fact, I'd feel quite low, a bit self-doubting and thinking what's the point - I can never do what I say I'm going to do. Pass the wine and what's on the telly?

I'd found myself trusting myself a bit less and thinking I was hopeless at keeping my word with myself. And although I was pretty good at keeping my agreements with others I was really pretty dire at keeping them with myself.

Result? Lower self-esteem and self-trust and I didn't even lose the half a stone.

So as I am someone who likes to learn and develop myself I read, I went to seminars and I thought I would experiment with a different approach.

I decided I would think about the kind of inner experiences I wanted in the coming year - how I wanted to feel. And I tried writing them down in December - so they were more of an intention rather than a tick this box. I saw there were lots of ways I could move towards the intentions.

For example, I decided a few years ago I needed much less stress in my life (my health was shouting loudly at me that I needed to do something). So my New Year's intention was for more calm and relaxation. There were many ways I worked with that - more meditation, more massages, singing (super relaxing for me!), more breaks from work, walking...

On the health front, I still wanted to be thinner (surprise!) but I also wanted to judge my body less. So my intention became accepting and taking good care of my body. Again, lots of ways to work with that - I ate more veg, went to Pilates, used body lotion!

And the love of my life? Well, I really looked at what I really wanted. I wanted to have that sense of belonging, of loving and giving and receiving and having more fun with people.

So how did it go?

I had success with all of them!!!!! Not 100% because life is always a work in progress, but enough to make me feel like I was moving forward. And I love this intention thing - it really works for me.

None of this is to say I am anti-goal setting. I've had many times in my life where I have set goals and succeeded - like running a marathon with very little training, to facilitate seminars with Insight all around the world - a huge dream. The early stages of adulthood, when we are starting to make our way in the world is a prime time for goal-setting.

But to quote Anthony Robbins, Peak Performance Expert,

"Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction. The only reason we really pursue goals is to cause ourselves to expand and grow. Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it's who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfilment."

How Insight Works

With 2015 over, and 2016 just beginning, do you want this year to be different?  Are there things in your life, you want to change? And if so, do you feel confident of achieving lasting change? Many of us make New Year resolutions, fewer of us actually keep them. By February, or possibly even earlier, we have drifted back to old ways, without as much as a backward glance. Although done with the best intentions, when we make New Year’s resolutions, they are often made as a statement of aspiration rather than an intention we will keep. So, when we fall, it actually comes as no surprise. And yet, there is something quietly disheartening about our own inability to change. It eats at our self- esteem and somehow slowly erodes our confidence in the future: that things can and will be different. If this sounds familiar, perhaps in 2016 you might consider doing things differently? Taking an Insight seminar, is one way of equipping you with tools and techniques that will help you make lasting change.

Insight Seminars have been operating since the late 1970’s and are designed to give practical assistance to living daily, more of the life you want to live. Its processes are experiential: short talks; one to one processes; guided meditations; group sharing and exercises (games) which give you an opportunity to reflect on, and evaluate your life: who are you? What do you want from life; what is not working and how might you change it, are some of the questions you might consider. Though, what you choose to look at, is solely a matter for you.

MaryAnn Somerville, an Insight facilitator for over thirty years, says she has witnessed through this process,

‘…tens of thousands of people discover simple and powerful ways to improve their relationships, ignite creativity, increase their health, wealth and happiness and dramatically improve the quality of their lives.’

As long ago as May 1979, Ariana Huffington described her experience after an Insight seminar, as being:

‘…a catalyst for us to experience more joy, love, strength, aliveness… ‘(Insight Blog)

 This, too, has been my experience, though it was not initially the case, (See Dare to Jump – Insight Blog). I took my first seminar back in 2000. A born sceptic who spent the first two days of that first seminar double guessing the facilitators and participants, I found the process exceptionally challenging. Deeply resistant to acknowledging my emotions, by day two I wanted out. Yet I hung in, just long enough, for something inside me to shift. That shift in attitude eventually brought a new level of self-awareness which in itself was life changing. Fifteen years on, the resistance is still there, though I recognise it now and can take steps to deal with it. As for the sceptic in me, she continues to question but these days, is usually more amenable to persuasion.

Why then are Insight seminars so successful? Trust, in my view, is at the heart of Insight’s effectiveness. Judith Glaser, in her book Conversational Intelligence, examines how trust, the most basic human instinct, provides a springboard for the transformation of individuals, companies and cultures. She outlines how research has shown that we are hardwired with the capacity for both trust and distrust to help us deal with uncertainty and that how we choose to react will impact our neurochemistry. Put at its most simple, neuroscience can now show how different parts of the brain are affected depending on whether we are in a state of trust or distrust (Angelika Dimoka of the Centre of Neural Decision Making, Fox School of Business, Temple University). When in a state of distrust, the amygdala part of the brain which controls fear, emotions and memory, is activated. Our brains lock down, the hormone cortisol increases and we are no longer open to influence. When we are in a state of trust the prefrontal cortex is activated. This part of the brain is involved in, amongst other things: decision making, determining good and bad, goal orientation, prediction of outcomes and building and sustaining trust. Researchers have found that when participants felt trusted their brains responded by producing oxytocin which reduced anxiety and in turn encouraged openness. As trust and fear are inversely related, (fear activating the amygdala and trust decreasing it) an increase in trust and openness frees up the brain for other activities like creativity, planning and decision making.

What an Insight seminar does, is to create an environment in which there is a high level of trust, with participants feeling respected and heard in an empathic and non-judgemental way. By creating this safe space, individuals are more willing to disclose their vulnerabilities and fears making for greater connection with the group as a whole. When there is an increase in trust the mind shifts from the lower brain (the amygdala - which focuses on protection and defending ourselves) to the executive brain (the pre-frontal cortex). With such a shift, we are open to communicate at a higher level, share and discover ideas as well as listen more deeply.

 When we speak openly and honestly it helps us to see each other as people with similar concerns and needs.  By encouraging transparency and creating a safe environment, the seminar provides learning opportunities to look at what lies behind our fears. The result? By knowing ourselves better we trust more and by increasing our levels of oxytocin we feel more joy, love, strength, aliveness. What’s more, we have, on leaving the seminar, a new framework of reference by which to live. Whilst everyone’s experience is unique to them, I can guarantee you that if you trust enough, this New Year, to take a leap of faith and participate in an Insight seminar, you will not be disappointed. For whatever your experience, it will, I suspect, be life changing.