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Resolved to quit resolutions? Hypnolight Hypnotherapy on how to keep New Year resolutions.

Here we go again. That time of the year is looming when many of us make New Year resolutions. There is something about it, isn’t there? It feels nearly obligatory to make a resolution, just because everybody else is at it. It’s a new social norm. People will be (annoyingly) asking you, “What is your resolution for the next year?”

However, we all know what the ‘usual suspects’ for New Year resolutions are. Gyms in Edinburgh, Fife and around the country are rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of people flooding through their doors in January. Smokers are mentally preparing themselves in the belief that they will really quit this time round – trying to focus on the waste of money and the risks to their health.

You may be thinking to yourself, “This time it will be different and I shall really go for it. I can feel it in my bones, I shall persevere!”

Many of us have been indulging in all sorts of things during the year that, deep inside, if we are honest with ourselves, may not always be best for us. That crafty cigarette behind everyone’s back won’t do any harm…look, it’s been a tough day and that third chocolate muffin I am eating is well deserved…. I have been so stressed at work that a cheeky glass of red during the school night won’t hurt…etc. Now, I am all up for treating myself every so often, what would life be without small pleasures?

My favorite saying when I was at uni in Edinburgh used to be, “We all have addictions to feed” and I certainly did enjoy raising my dopamine levels via all sorts of means. I had a love affair with Irn Bru 32 – a Scottish attempt at Red Bull, (un)fortunately no longer available. This was my staple diet, especially before exams. (Btw, dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for controlling the brain’s pleasure centre. I will not say more as neurotransmitters are a favourite topic of mine and this blog would end up taking a different direction).

I remember one day speaking to one of my psychology lecturers who was waxing lyrical about how amazing the chocolate muffins at the canteen were and how she could not help buying them. She said that she enjoyed them but felt so guilty. I told her, “Don’t worry, we all have addictions to feed”. She gave me a very puzzled look and said: “Slavka, I think you are studying on the wrong course…You should have been doing podiatry if you like feet.” A misunderstanding that had us both laughing!

You may be the other type of person, perhaps in the minority, who does not do New Year’s resolutions. You may not really see a point in it, for various reasons. Perhaps you failed so many times that you just lost interest. Maybe now you’d rather not make any resolutions at all so that you can avoid another failure. It would only make you feel bad about yourself, so why bother in the first place, you may be thinking. Or you may be thinking, “Well, if I want to start/stop something, why wait until January?”

So why do people fail with their resolutions? I guess many people tend focus on immediacy. We live in the age of ‘instant’ gratification so we have become accustomed to wanting and getting to see results fast. However, not everything is instantaneous and a change also involves some personal effort. Many people just want things to happen fast without much commitment (the slimming pills industry is based on this), thinking they can just buy the ‘results’ with some magical short cuts. You can also blame the brain reward centres that need more dopamine to feel the ‘high’ – and the quicker one gets a gratification, the better. Nobody likes to be deprived of their happy neurotransmitters and people will go to great length to satisfy them. So, when people don’t see results fast, they are put off and give up. By the way, smokers are a special breed because nicotine hijacks the brain’s reward centre which, when combined with strong psychological associations that come with the act of smoking (i.e. having a coffee with your cigarette regularly will make you think about a cigarette every time you smell coffee etc.), make it very hard to quit. That is a topic for another blog perhaps.

In order to raise the chances of success, hypnotherapy can aid the process of boosting one’s motivation… but a personal level of commitment to change is also necessary.

I will be honest, I used to dislike being asked about my own New Year’s resolutions and would simply say that I did not believe in them. In the past I have both failed with my resolutions and then decided that if I wanted to start/stop something, I wouldn’t wait until January… I would do it whenever I wanted to and felt ready. As a result, I stopped smoking one mid-June. Breathing exercises and hypnotherapy certainly helped me, but that is another story, maybe for another time.

So, whichever category of people you belong to, it does not really matter. If you do have a resolution, great. If you don’t have one, then that’s fine too. However, if you feel like you could do with some help with whatever it is that you are trying to deal with (stopping smoking, help to lose weight, or even increased motivation to do whatever you want to do), then please get in touch to arrange a hypnotherapy session. I will be happy to help you along the way… and not only in January!

PS: Merry Christmas everyone and may the New Year be the way you want it to be. And it does not really matter whether you are celebrating Hogmanay in Edinburgh, Fife or anywhere else, as long as you have fun…