The New Year is upon us, and once again, we swear to ourselves that we'll stop eating sugar and spend more time with the family. Unfortunately, our deeply engrained habits supersede our best intentions, and within weeks, we usually fall back into the same old ways.
Studies show that only 8 percent of people actually end up achieving their New Year’s resolutions. Not to be all Debby Downer on your grand plans to be a better, fitter version of you this coming year, but perhaps it’s a good idea to shift the energy you put into resolutions and instead take a moment to reflect on your relationships. Regardless of your resolutions, goals, or vision board, the result we want is to be happy and fulfilled. With that in mind, here are some key questions to ask yourself this new year.
01. Do you base your sense of self-worth on someone else?
What is your source of empowerment and joy? Do you depend on your partner or relationship to be your source of fulfillment and to give you validation for your sense of self-worth?
If you do, this is a dangerous situation—you give up control of your personal power and unfairly place a lot of responsibility on someone else to be the keeper of your happiness. The moment your partner doesn’t live up to an expectation, or doesn’t give you enough time and affection, your self-worth suffers. This creates a cycle of neediness and resentment, and pretty soon you’re addicted to factors outside of your control to make you feel whole.
Your happiness should not depend on your partner. Leaning too heavily on any one person or thing in your life—whether it's your relationships, your job, or your material goods—for happiness can mean disaster when one of these aspects of your life gets kicked out from under you. Instead, set healthy boundaries around yourself and your relationships so you don't lose your sense of self. That way, you set yourself up that if one of these things goes away, then you merely lose balance instead of getting completely knocked off your feet.
02. Do you deposit or withdraw energy from people?
If you are finding that you are constantly begging for time and attention from others—and getting upset or bitter when you’re not getting the attention you seek— you might want to examine how you’re showing up in those relationships.
In romantic relationships, is your behavior needy? Are you controlling or being demanding with your expectations? Are you nagging, complaining, judging or creating drama? In other words, are you a downer? Or do you make space to let the other person shine and make them feel special? Do you ask questions with a genuine curiosity to connect? Are you inspiring, interacting with an open heart and from a place of authenticity? In other words, are you an upper?
The former attracts people to you. The latter repulses people from you.
People naturally want more of what feels good, so if you feel good, they will want more of you. If you make it an intention to leave people feeling more inspired, understood, and special after each interaction, you will find that more and more people will gravitate to you because you breathe life into them, versus sucking it out. At the end, the only thing people will remember about you is how you made them feel.
03. Are you attracting the right relationships?
Are you going through life using an accidental or intentional approach when it comes to relationships? Romantic or platonic—if you do not have a clear idea of the type of relationship(s) you want, you will get a hodgepodge of people that come in and out of your life.
Want to feel inspired and work on achieving more at work? Set the intention to meet like-minded, strong, and resilient people. Want to feel loved and safe in a romantic relationship? Visualize the type of person you want, create a list of values, character traits and ‘must haves’ so that when a potential mate appears, you can recognize him/her. New to a city and want to meet friends socially so you can integrate into a new community? Set the intention to meet connectors who are fun and sociable. Stop making friends by accident. Stop letting people happen to you.
04. Is your relationship about feeding your ego or enriching your soul?
Use this question as a filter for future decisions. Our egos have an insatiable appetite—the more you feed it, the more you need it. It’s a lot easier to default to being ego-based versus authenticity-based, but know that one creates light, and the other feeds the dark.
When you give, is it from a place of abundance or from a place of ego and fear? If you give from a place of trying to prove your worth you will end up feeling resentful and calculative, keeping tabs on what you are not getting back in return. Giving with an other-oriented spirit, however, lifts your soul and frees you from the stress and worry about whether or not others are giving you what you feel you deserve.
05. How would you date if you had no past?
Perhaps you were cheated on. Perhaps you were taken for granted. Perhaps you were betrayed. Your guard goes up, your heart closes and you approach new potential partners with a “guilty until proven innocent” approach.
It’s unfortunate that we often give so much power to the people who have hurt us in the past, and all the people in our future have to pay the price. It’s time to cut the cord.
Imagine, for a moment, you don't have a past. How would you show up in relationships now? How would you date differently? Would your heart be open? Would you allow yourself to get excited about someone instead of just expecting that person to let you down? The next time you’re on a date, watch out for your tendency to let fear and control take over. Stop and reflect, “if I didn’t have a past, how would I act right now?” When you can just “be” without cynicism of the past and anxiety of the future, you are present. And it’s in that space where magic can happen.
06. Will you take a risk?
Indecisiveness is an apathetic habit of our culture. We live in a world of infinite options and consequently a prevailing anxiety of “fear of missing out.” Thus, it's tempting to approach life with one foot in, to revel in maybes, constantly hold out for better options, and procrastinate decision making until the last minute. But there is maturity and courage that comes from making a commitment. Commitment takes discipline. Commitment requires integrity for follow through. Commitment takes risk, and with that, the potential for reward. What will you commit to risk this year?
07. Is your story serving you?
Something we all have in common is that each and every one of us will have some version of an imperfect childhood. Even those fortunate to have doting and loving parents will still grow up with an issue, insecurity, or habit that stems from their upbringing.
The degree or type of issues faced in adulthood is not what separates a person who is happy from one who is not. Rather, it’s the internal narrative that we believe in that does.
We are a sum of the stories we choose to believe, and if that story is negative, rooted in insecurity and a place of lack, then that is what we will take out of every experience and person we encounter. We may not be able to change the events of our history, but we can choose to change the story we’ve attached to those events. Ask yourself, what narrative is running your life? Is the story you believe in serving you? When you change the narrative, you change the outcome.
This article has been modified for Verily based on a similar piece that appeared on Amy Chan's personal website, JustMyType.com.
Photo Credit: Jordan Voth