Around this time of year, I hear people talking about “the new you for the new year.” This is usually accompanied by discussion of new year’s resolutions or commercials for gym memberships. The vast majority of us have things we’d like to improve about ourselves. For many it may be weight or appearance. For others, it could be goals to read more published books, less Facebook. Perhaps it’s more about improving a career or finding a new job. Changes in relationships, personal boundaries, and self esteem are also popular topics. The types of goals and resolutions are endless.
Regardless of what a person wants to improve, it comes with the assumption that something isn’t good enough. “I’d like to lose weight” implies I have weight to lose and would be better off for losing it. At worst, it says “I’m not good enough the way I am” and at its best, it says “I could be better.”
Let’s take a moment to consider that “old” you before launching into efforts to create a “new” you. Think about everything you’ve been through. Remember the traumas and the heartaches, all of the times you may have thought “I can’t do this,” and did it anyway. Your “old” self made sure that you would overcome, or at a minimum survive the hardships. The body you have today – no matter what flaws you see in it – is the body that has carried you through every day of your life.
What about the victories and accomplishments? What have you done that you are proud of? Your “old” you is the one who brought you through the process of trial and error to reach success. Sure, it’s the “old” you that made mistakes, but it’s also the you that has learned from those same mistakes. The “old” you failed to pave the way for victories.
As you consider saying goodbye to this “old” you, take time to take inventory. Make a list of the parts of that self that you appreciate. Think about or write down the qualities of that person that make you proud, make you laugh, or comfort you. Add to that list things others value, attributes you have received compliments or praise for.
It seems easy to pick out the flaws and the parts of ourselves we want to change. We tend to be keenly aware of what we don’t like. As you look toward the new year and consider the person you hope to be next New Years, don’t forget to honor the “old” you. That person is an amazing survivor, a fighter, an artist, and a student. There is no “new” you without the “old” you cheering you on.