Affirmations Instead of Resolutions: Thoughts for 2021

The eating disorder recovery community is not playing around when it comes to the New Year’s resolutions. Fast and furious, professionals and recovered folks alike, we rally together to take a stand against the onslaught of diet ads and fitness fantasies. We will say it louder for those in the back: you did not “overdo” anything over the holidays. You do not need to lose weight to “be your best self.” There’s nothing joyful or sustainable about hammering away at the gym for four to six weeks at the start of the year, only to burn out and go home exhausted and ashamed that you’ve somehow failed to “do it right.”

And still… the New Year is a transition. While the difference between December 31st and January 1st may be arbitrary on paper, there is something nice about acknowledging an energetic shift after the holidays. The New Year can symbolize new beginnings, and can mark a meaningful time to reflect on the past and create a vision for the future. Humans are meaning-making creatures, and we enjoy traditions, ceremony and ritual for the familiarity, comfort, and sense of community they offer.

Resolutions, however, feel a little too rigid. Resolve can too easily morph into a “should,” then spiral further into a form of shame-inducing self-criticism or self-punishment. Unlike the gentleness associated with the dawn of a new day, resolutions tend to lack an element of forgiveness. Additionally, after decades of New Year’s social commentary on food and weight loss, resolutions seem inextricably linked with diets and fat phobia. As far as we’re concerned, resolutions are out.

How can we honor the dawn of a new year in a more positive light? We propose replacing those dusty old, shame-fueled resolutions with affirmations. Some definitions of an affirmation include:

  1. The action or process of affirming something or being affirmed
  2. The assertion that something exists or is true
  3. Emotional support or encouragement
  4. A positive statement that can help you to overcome self-sabotaging, negative thoughts

Affirmations are useful in many ways. They can help us focus on our positive qualities instead of pushing us to fundamentally change ourselves. They can help us connect to our true selves, and create a balance between what we are living in the present moment and which parts of us we want to nurture for the future. Affirmations are an act of self-compassion, or when used towards others, an act of loving kindness. They help to mitigate the effects of stress and can have a positive impact on those suffering from low self-esteem or depression.

Affirmations can also be applied as a regular practice. When repeated frequently, daily or in particular situations, affirmations can cultivate a rhythm that accesses some of the soothing benefits we gain from ritual and routine. Unlike a resolution that must eventually conclude, an affirmation practice can be continual. The practice becomes an ongoing exercise in training our brains to recognize and believe in our positive attributes, and the practice itself gets easier with time.

So for the last time, ditch the resolutions! Join us in starting off 2021 with an affirmation practice.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

I am worthy.
I am proud of my accomplishments.
I can do it.
I am talented.
I treat myself with kindness and respect.
I am enough.
I trust my intuition.
I am resilient.
I nourish myself with food and sleep.
I am capable of great things.

Want a more constant reminder of these ideas? Download this infographic! You can print it out and hang it on your wall, to provide encouragement and a boost to your day.

When you use affirmations, you affirm your truth and your existence. So, language matters. Choose an affirmation, or affirmations, that resonate with you personally. Choose an affirmation that uplifts you. We have no doubt that the impact of the positive energy you imbue upon yourself will far exceed that of any tired old resolution!

Wishing you a year filled with positive thought, self-love, and compassion.