I was thinking about resolutions (who isn’t this month,) and I realized that resolution equals the act of re-solving something. In other words, resolution is the idea of solving something a different way. You keep trying to lose weight. Maybe you are determined to finally stop swearing. Or maybe you are going to learn that language you keep saying you want to know. Sometimes resolutions involve being kinder and more loving to your spouse or children. Some people feel stuck and find life difficult. Trying to be positive just doesn’t work after a while, so we continue to use alcohol or something else to make it possible to ignore our depression. Almost all of these things are resolutions that you may have attempted like so many others before, and after a while given up unsuccessfully. How can this year be different? How can you re-do or re-solve these problems of losing weight, swearing, becoming disciplined, practicing a better way to communicate, or finding some emotional support? To change something, it is important to actually find a replacement behavior. We do what we do to because it seems to work for us. Maybe not the way we want, but until we have another solution, we continue with the same way of doing it we always did.

Let’s look at losing weight. Instead of counting calories, perhaps this year you will vow to work out more and be both slimmer and healthier. If you found yourself swearing too much last year, maybe you will choose to give a compliment every day instead. Learning something new in the abstract is a lot harder, so maybe this year you could try to just learn a new word in the language every day and try to use it at least twice. Before going to sleep at night, you could make a conscious decision to give someone you love a hug and say something to make them know you care for them. Changing a long standing mood will often require reaching out and seeking some support from someone who is trained to help like a therapist or church pastor.

These are all new ways to re-solve ways of doing things that do not bring us satisfaction. It is not enough to vow to change. After we identity a way of being we don’t like, we must find new, more supportive ways to change to become what we want to be. In other words, by re-solving the problem and doing something in a more rewarding way, we will find that this year the resolutions will stick and at the end of 2011 we really can see change!

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Gina Crozier, the director of Sonoma Family Counseling has been working with families and children for over thirty years. Her style of counseling is positive, solution-focused with the idea that within everyone there is the ability to solve their problems.