Don’t expect any New Year’s resolutions from me. I intend to remain the same sarcastic, lil’ bit pudgy, long-winded, foul-mouthed delight you’ve all come to know and love. Ahh, yes, it’s the New Year. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I didn’t become a better person. I thought about it last January and then a plate of heart-shaped raspberry brownies showed up at the office on Valentine’s Day, and my resolution popped like the seams in my sweatpants. There’s something about the first day of the first month of a brand-new year, when the last of the holiday champagne bubbles pop and we suddenly snap out of it.
While we gather up the empty beer bottles, vacuum the popcorn off the rug, wipe the nacho dribbles off the coffee table, and peel off our old, college-team football jersey, we get that stark glimpse of ourselves in the foggy mirror on our way into the shower and think, “Oh my God, who are you, and what have you done with the sexy person I thought I was? I’ve apparently morphed into a Dionysian goddess of post-pandemic binge-eating, binge-watching, and binge-scrolling, an Olympian sumo-couch-potato with the aspiration of becoming Jabba the Hutt. That’s it — enough! I’m making my New Year’s resolution starting right now.”
Well…I’ll think about it, anyway. No, darn it, I’m going to redeem that gym membership seasonal discount coupon, clean out my fridge, and dust off that Nutra Bullet that’s been shoved in the little cupboard above the fridge for the last three years. Nothing but kale smoothies and egg whites for me.
I’m going to put out a swear jar, and…wait, that’s not gonna happen. But I’m going to meditate every day and limit myself to only 30 minutes of social media. I’m going to take daily walks, be kinder to strangers on the internet, clean out the garage, and come out with a New! and Improved! me. Because somehow guilt and shame seem to be the prominent motivators. But how’s that working for us in the long run?
Shame has long been viewed as “the toxic cousin of guilt,” but it has benefited us over evolution. According to a study by Pivetti, et. al., quoted by psychologist Joachín Selva:
Shame is characterized by the desire to hide and escape, [this may explain the binge behavior], guilt by the desire to repair” [perhaps because we’re worried about how we look to others]. https://positivepsychology.com/shame-guilt/
Shame and guilt are functionally designed to protect us against harming those who are dear…