Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Bookend Holidays and the Traps that are Set

Hanukkah was at the beginning of the month.  We passed the winter solstice last week and Christmas was celebrated over the weekend.  Kwanza started yesterday and if there are any other special holiday celebrations I missed I’m regretfully sorry.  Now that these holidays have past or are underway what happens?  I’ll tell you what happens; we start seeing commercials for fitness clubs and diet plans because New Year’s Eve is this coming weekend and that comes equipped with lots of pressure to set a resolution.

I decided to discuss the resolution today to let you off the hook.  DON’T MAKE A RESOLUTION.  They’re a trap for self-loathing and self-disgust.  I know at some point in history they probably were a planning tool, but now they’re a gimmick to sell products.  This is when all the self-help books come out, and self-help is good, but not the most important thing.

Following the diagnosis of a chronic or other life-altering illness, it’s not about resolutions.  It’s about understanding and compassion.  It’s about learning the intricacies of your body; so in other words it’s about intimacy.  It’s about being kind to yourself when you aren’t up to going somewhere, doing something, or visiting with someone because you don’t have the energy. 

This does become a time of reminiscence.  Many of the shows are looking back on the events of the year and that’s interesting because we can see the latest and greatest trends and fads, but with that always comes the “in memoriam” section honoring those who have died during the year.  Unfortunately, as I wrote about in one of my November posts, not everyone survives and illness.

I’m pleading with you to let yourself off the hook from the New Year’s resolution.  If you want to set goals for the coming year that’s great, especially if they entail ways to promote health and healing.  The trick is to understand that it’s a goal and not a resolution.  A goal is something to work toward, a resolution is filled with idea that the first time you aren’t in line with the resolution you’ve failed.

Goals take time to integrate.  They’re like putting on a new pair of shoes and trying to break them in and when you do they’re your favorites.  The health and healing goals can be made alone or they can be made with friends and family, your medical team, your therapist, or your spiritual advisor. 

Don’t give your power away by making a resolution and then be judged by the “powers that be” on whether you were a success.  The 12-step programs say, “Progress not perfection.”  I think that’s a good motto to live by.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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