By Leslie Rouder, LCSW, Cht.
Believe it or not, it’s that time of the year for making New Year’s resolutions once again. Research shows that although making these resolutions are helpful, only a small percentage of people actually keep them. In fact, according to Dr. John Norcross, a professor at Scranton University, who has conducted several studies on this subject, only 46 % of those who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them six months later. And only 40% even bother to try to come up with them. So what’s up with our inability to keep promises TO OURSELVES???
Let me first say that people who make very explicit clearly written resolutions are 10 times more successful in achieving their goals than those who do not. So, in thinking about attempting this challenge, it would make sense to be very clear in writing your resolutions on paper. However, for many people with a poor history of keeping promises to oneself (which looks like most of us) it does not seem likely that many of us would embrace this challenge.
So, I asked myself, what is this lack of “will” that seems pervasive amongst the majority of us, and why and how do we give up our personal power? A lot of this may simply be that we take on goals that are not very realistic, or that we do not know how to implement them. But, in thinking about this from the perspective of our personal power being a form of energy, how do we lose this energy and give up our personal power, over and over again, in our life time?
For those who are familiar with the chakra system, which are the 7 power centers in our body, the idea of personal power is certainly a third chakra issue. The third chakra is located in our solar plexus and is considered the magnetic core of the personality and ego. The sacred truth of this chakra teaches us to honor oneself. It is the teacher of self-respect, self-esteem, ambition, and self-discipline. Its primary fears are around criticism, worrying about what other people think of us, embarrassment, failure, and what we look like. It also presents to us as fear around growing old, getting fat or bald, or feeling like an imposter.
So in considering this, one might see the connection of how a weakness in our third chakra might be detrimental to our keeping (or even attempting) to make any resolutions or promises to one ’s self. But the more important question is; how do we fix it? How do we repair this leakage in this energy system, so that we strengthen our self-esteem, which allows us to transcend the obstacles that we face in our lives?
In considering this answer, I turned to Dr. Caroline Myss, who is an expert on energy healing and the Chakras for guidance. In order to repair and enhance our self-esteem (and ultimately our inner power) as it relates to the third chakra, Dr. Myss developed 4 stages of inner development which I have listed below;
Revolution is that act of developing one’s own inner guidance outside of the ideas and beliefs or our group or “tribe”. It’s the act of finding one’s “inner voice” and honoring its truth. Its power is in our development of our own inner authority.
Involution is the process by which we evaluate our life in terms of how the world is meeting our needs, as well as our life’s mission. It is the practice of self-examination and inner knowledge. It means developing the stamina to respond to the answers, when they come, because along with self-knowledge, comes choices and ultimately actions as well as the knowledge that we are responsible for our lives.
The third stage of narcissism is about developing the energy to not only hear one’s inner voice, but act upon it. It provides us with the necessary ability to go against the norm or the tribe. It gives us the ability to stand our ground in the face of opposition, develop appropriate boundaries, and re-create our lives in ways that honor our inner truth.
This is the stage of internal development, in which one stays on course with one’s mission while maintaining one’s principles, dignity, and faith, regardless of any outside criticism or resistance. Even Mother Teresa, in her early days was considered to be narcissistic and was almost forced from 2 religious orders as a result of her strong calling to service the poor in ways that went far beyond that of the other sisters. She was greatly criticized for what they perceived as self-absorbed and narcissistic in her desires. After a process of deep spiritual reflection, she acted on her intuitive guidance allowing her spirit to take command and step into the life she felt was her calling.
In considering the above four stages of development, one realizes that this is not so easy. It means courageously taking on the spiritual task of self-inquiry and symbolic insight. It means facing our inner conflicts, fears and secrets. It means dying to old habits and beliefs, respecting our strengths and weaknesses, developing our independence, giving ourselves permission to be ambitious, listening and honoring our inner voice, and having faith in the process of transformation.
Maybe a simple New Year’s Resolution is not so simple at all, because in keeping those promises to ourselves, we are ultimately challenging the development of our personal power and the strengthening of our connection to our third chakra. Maybe the energy that most of us use to keep those promises is shear will. (And, as statistics have certainly shown us, shear will is not always enough.) Perhaps we need to look inside for the true obstacles that keep us from holding on to our resolutions and achieving our goals. And so, I end this article with the hope that this holiday season, we can all reflect on the lessons of the third chakra, and the long standing words of Polonius, “To thine own self be true.”
Wishing you all a Happy Holiday Season!