New Year’s Resolutions That Don’t Stick

by Shelly M. Smith

Many people vow to make changes in their behavior at the start of a New Year. Often, however, even though they start out gung ho, they eventually lose momentum. Then they beat themselves up about their inability to make the change. This does not mean that there’s something wrong with the person—that they’re lazy or lacking in self-control, determination, discipline or willpower. Many times, it simply means that the rational “thinking” part of them wants to make certain changes but other parts of them do not. These other parts of them do not live in the frontal cortex where rational thinking and problem solving take place, but live in the bodymind or unconscious mind. They consist of energy in the form of conflicting beliefs, programs, or suppressed emotions that often were set in place when the person was much younger.

An example would be someone with a goal to lose weight that has a good understanding about what foods and exercise habits will support this goal, and which will not. The rational informed part of the person tries to eat right and exercise, but another part, which they may or may not be conscious of, says, “Yeah? Make me. I want to eat whatever I want to eat when I want to eat it. Thank you very much.” This may indicate an aspect of themselves that already feels deprived and unloved and this is the only way that person knows how to comfort themselves.

When we are unaware of these hurting parts of ourselves, they end up feeling ignored or unloved which often causes them to “act out” with a vengeance. This is why people sometimes engage in secretive splurging and eventually sabotage their good intentions. This is how these unheard parts finally get attention and have their say.

Sometimes people try to “program” their unconscious minds with positive affirmations. If this strategy works, then by all means, please continue. But many people have been unable to make their desired changes this way, and feel bad about themselves as a result. There are a couple of reasons this strategy often does not work. First of all, the unconscious mind is about a million times more powerful than the conscious mind. ( Secondly, this technique is often done with an energy of control versus love.

The way to escape this cycle is not through more self-control or self recriminations, but by learning how to listen to these hurt parts of ourselves versus trying to control them. Like all hurt children, they just want to be heard and understood. When we can learn how to do this with genuine compassion, these parts will release their grip and their demands will quiet.

What we think of as negative energy will always transform in the presence of love energy. Every spiritual tradition says so. Learning how to bring the unconscious parts of ourselves into awareness—and learning how to listen to them in order to help them heal—could be the best New Year’s resolution we could make.

Shelly M. Smith, LPC, LMFT, is the founder of Nature’s Way Home Counseling in Pickens, a nature-based, body-centered approach to help its clients get to the root of issues and release them with ease. The method that she developed and teaches is called The Compassion Process. It’s the culmination of a 20 plus year search for the most easeful and effective ways to access unconscious sabotaging energy in the bodymind and release it. She discovered that while these techniques may differ in some ways, the piece that they all share which makes them so powerful is compassion. For more information, call 864-933-8000, email, or visit To read the referenced information by Bruce Lipton (author of The Biology of Belief) on the power of the unconscious mind, visit this post on his website at