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The first month of 2009 is almost over.  Did you make any new year’s resolutions? If so, have you stuck to them?  Sometimes, if you are ready, it is possible to start a new year by resolving not to do this or to start doing that, but research carried out by psychologist, Professor Richard Wiseman showed that only one in ten of us will succeed.


This isn’t a reason to feel gloomy or give up – I believe it just takes a different approach.  A gentle one – that isn’t dictated to us by an unforgiving, critical internal voice many mothers apart from their children struggle with. 


Here are some suggestions for making the most of 2009:


Start by reflecting on what works well in your life.  Make time for a break with a cuppa, pen and a note pad.  Write your lists of positives, including things that you’ve worked hard to achieve, things that are resolving themselves over the passage of time and where you think you just got lucky.  Sometimes our gifts are so well wrapped we have difficulty seeing them as such.  As you reflect and unwrap yourself, you can unwrap each gift.  Appreciate yourself. You’ve allowed these successes, however big or small to happen in your life. Acknowledgement creates potentiality.


Choose change and do it slowly.  It’s never too late to re-examine our choices.  Re-examination is wise.  We always have choices, knowing this is empowering.   Ask yourself:  What will make me feel better? What is in my best interests?  If you’re feeling low or knocked back by life, start incrementally, to build your confidence.  Even going to bed a half an hour earlier to read more or sleep longer, or getting up earlier to avoid rushed mornings, eat a proper breakfast, do yoga or Tai Chi – can make a big difference.  Little changes build confidence for bigger challenges. 


If you’d like to end a damaging habit that is physical – like smoking or compulsive eating, or emotional – like reacting angrily, judgementally or sinking into a depression ; ask yourself what this action or feeling is doing or you, what the payoff to this behaviour is?  For example, working too hard can protect us from feeling loss and loneliness.  Smoking or eating might be a way of drawing in and holding on to anger.  An angry outbursts or self criticism could be masking our need to grieve.  Self awareness – knowing the payoff – is the first step to choosing a different way. 


Do something completely different – belly dancing, buy a drum set, walk Hadrian’s Wall, ice skating, learn Italian, become a platinum blond, read poetry in public, do a high ropes course, patchwork quilt making or anything else under the sun. Notice any resistance you feel.  Who says you can’t?  Even something as simple as buying a lipstick in a colour you’ve never worn before can enliven you.  Something different invigorates, gets us thinking, makes us laugh!  


Interestingly, Dr Wiseman’s research showed that women were more likely to keep their resolutions when they told friends and family about them and gained support.  Although sharing our hopes, fears, longing and problems can seem like a risk – especially if you’re feeling pain, guilt and low self worth – reaching out, connecting with others and asking for help when you need it is a strength not a weakness.  


Spring is in the wings, the Snowdrops are out so why not go on a walk to look for some.  Snowdrops are said to symbolise hope and consolation – a soothing gift of nature, just for you.


Sarah’s new self-help book: A Mother Apart

Support for women

Sarah specialises in counselling and training women. She helps non-resident mothers find inner peace by dealing with guilt, distress and other difficult feelings which can be experienced when living apart from their child. Her self-help book, 'A Mother Apart', published by Crown House, is available now. She also supports business women grow in confidence whilst growing their businesses. To find out more, please visit Sarah Hart's website

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