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S2 EP140 – Promises Made, Promises Broken

Episode Summary

Do you make New Year’s resolutions, and if you do, are they from your loving adult or your wounded self? Are they just about goals, or also about who you want to be? This New Year is a great time to learn how to offer the best gift you can give a loved one. And discover the one New Year’s resolution can change your life, heal your relationships, create health and wellbeing, and heal our planet. 


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul and Dr. Erika Chopich here with the Inner Bonding podcast. Today we are talking about New Year’s resolutions. Again, my very creative friend Erika suggested the title, and here is what she has to say about this topic.  

(Erika) New Year’s resolutions are set with the best intention. You’re saying, “I want to be a little bit better than I am, I want to be more than I am right now today.” This is a good thing because it helps you to spread your wings and to soar just a bit higher and to be more than you thought you could be.

But who sets the goal? If the goal comes from your loving adult and your higher self, it is easily attained without a whole lot of thought. But when the wounded self sets the goal, the wounded self tends to be a taskmaster. “You must get up early and exercise.” “You must eat less or eat better.” “You must work harder and do it all in 30 days.” This sets you up to fail. Whatever your New Year’s resolution is, whatever your goal is, you can’t truly achieve it without at least some sense of self-love and self-nurturing and self-celebration.

I’ve noticed so many times over the years people make resolutions and by the time January 31st rolls around they’ve either forgotten about it or end up feeling like a failure, because the goal was unattainable without the level of self-love you need to set yourself free to be all you can be.

Over the years I have worked with people, I’ve repeatedly listened to them say, “I promised myself that I would eat better.” “I promised myself that I would get out there and exercise.” “I promised myself that I would achieve new goals with my family and with my work.” It never sounded like a true loving promise to me. When I hear someone say “I promised myself…” I hear the voice of their wounded self becoming controlling with themselves. Most people appear to be unconscious that at that moment, it’s likely your wounded self being a stern parent! The real question is why are you making resolutions from your wounded self? Perhaps it’s not a resolution you need, but a lifestyle change, or a new way of being or a new way of loving who you are just as you are. We can certainly do without New Year’s resolutions from the wounded self. If the rest of the year you spend on learning to love yourself and those around you, there’s no need to make some stern frightening resolution that could easily end up making you feel like a failure by the end of January!

Years ago, I had a client in my practice who decided that a New Year’s resolution would be the answer to her insecurity. She vowed that she would lose 40 pounds and get in shape by the end of February. She was determined. Yet every time I saw her, what became increasingly clear was that she was suffering from a horrible internal attack of self-judgment. She truly believed that if she morphed herself into a gorgeous beauty no matter what it took or how tough she had to be on herself, that somehow her life would change, and all would be happily ever after. This is not what happened. I saw her growing increasingly depressed due to the internal demands of her wounded self who, in reality, was her mother internalized.

Day after day this poor woman would beat herself up and push herself to achieve a goal that was simply unattainable for her wounded self. At one point I remember asking her what’s the point? It was a change point in her therapy because now, finally, the point of the therapy was focused on her lack of self-love and self-acceptance, which is why she had no sense of self-worth. Once she let herself off the hook and let go of the resolution, she seemed to come back to life. Her being was lighter and eventually her self-caring took over and she began to lose weight just naturally and in joy.

In this New Year give yourself a break. It’s fine to set goals but don’t be the taskmaster who is enslaving you by some resolution that could easily make you more unhappy. Focus instead on just being the Light and you will have a fabulous New Year.

(Margaret) I’ve never known Erika to make New Year’s resolutions, but what I’ve seen is that she strives to be the Light all the time, and over the many years of our friendship, I’ve seen her light shine brighter and brighter with each year. Erika is deeply motivated to be as loving as she can be with herself and others and is a wonderful inspiration for all who know her.

I said some of this last year at New Years, but I feel this is worth repeating.

If you do want to make New Year’s resolutions, it’s important to realize that there are there are two kinds of New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. What you are going to do to accomplish your goals
  2. Who you want to be

As Erika said, many New Year’s resolutions are of the first kind, and generally come from your wounded self, such as:

  • I’m going to lose 25 pounds in the next couple of months
  • I’m going to exercise every day
  • I’m going to learn self-discipline
  • I’m going to double my income

And so on….

I’m not diminishing these kinds of resolutions. It is often very helpful to set these kinds of goals for ourselves if they are from our loving adult to be loving to ourselves, rather than from our wounded self as a way to define our worth or try to control outcomes.

But perhaps this year, if you do want to make New Year’s resolutions, you can add another kind of resolution – the who-you-want-to-be kind.

What if your resolutions came from your loving adult and had to do with your thoughts and actions toward yourself and others? What if these resolutions centered around being loving rather than achieving something, and created the lifestyle changes that Erika referred to? What might these resolutions be? Here are some suggestions:

  • I’m going to become aware of my judgments toward myself and others and how I feel inside when I’m judgmental.

  • When I’m angry, I’m going to go off by myself and take care of my own feelings rather than dump my anger on others.

  • I’m going to stop taking others’ behavior personally and instead embrace the loneliness and heartache I feel when others are uncaring.
  • I’m going to remember to be grateful for every small blessing rather than complain about what I don’t have. 

  • I will make being loving more important than avoiding the pain of rejection.

  • I will attend to the painful life feelings of loneliness, heartache, heartbreak, grief, sorrow, and helplessness over others with deep compassion for myself rather than turning to addictions to numb them.

  • I will keep my heart open to learning about what is loving to me and to others rather than close my heart to protect against the pain of life.

  • I will be warm, kind, and respectful toward everyone I meet, even if I don’t personally connect with them, remembering that we are all One.

  • I will take loving care of my body, the house of my soul.

  • I will allow my higher self to guide me in what is in my highest good and the highest good of others, rather than allow my ego wounded self to be in charge of my thoughts and actions.

  • I will take the time to be with those I love and express my love for them.

  • I will remember to stay connected with my inner guidance, my feelings, so that I can take full responsibility for them.

  • I will choose to love, even when I am afraid. I will make love more important than control, more important than being right, and more important than winning.

  • I will attend to what brings me joy.

  • I will be true to myself, neither giving myself up to others, nor expecting others to give themselves up to me.

  • I will support my own highest good and the highest good of others, never deliberately acting in ways that harm me or harm others.

  • I will be honest and trustworthy with myself and others, not compromising my integrity as a soul.

  • I will constantly keep in mind what I want to contribute to others rather than what I want to get from others.

I’m sure you can think of many more who-you-want-to-be resolutions. Why not take some time today to write them out?

Imagine the world we would have if each of us made loving ourselves and others our highest priority – higher than fame, higher than fortune, higher than being the best, higher than winning or being right, higher than avoiding the painful feelings of life.

I also hope you consider giving the best New Year gift you can ever give to your family and friends.

Many of us grew up feeling very alone. When our feelings were not accepted and attended to with caring, understanding, and compassion, we might have felt deeply abandoned and perhaps terrified at the level of aloneness we felt within. If you were abused physically, sexually, or emotionally, or you were neglected, then this aloneness was overwhelming and you had to find ways to numb this pain, which is how the wounded self was developed.

Today, this deep aloneness and fear can get triggered in our relationships. This triggering is common in dysfunctional relationship systems such as the one between my clients, Janice and Marcus.

Janice, an only child, had a mother who suffered from borderline personality disorder (BPD), a mental disorder where the person is often blaming, threatening, and rageful. Janice’s mother took her rage out on Janice, and when she would cry, her mother would ridicule her. Janice’s father was an alcoholic who sometimes beat her and her mother. There was never a time growing up when Janice felt safe. She had developed a deep fear of rejection. 

Marcus, also an only child, came from a needy and overbearing single mother, who made him responsible for her feelings and punished him with her anger when he didn’t give himself up to her demands. Marcus had a deep fear of engulfment. 

When something triggered Janice into feeling alone and terrified, she would come to Marcus with her fear, but her fear triggered his fear of engulfment, and he would withdraw. His withdrawal made Janice feel even more alone and terrified and she would respond with anger, which scared Marcus into even more numbness and withdrawal.

Both Janice and Marcus had been practicing Inner Bonding when they sought my help. Even though some things had changed for the better as they each learned to take more responsibility for their own feelings, when this system was triggered, it was very painful for both of them, and they were on the verge of divorce.
As I gained a deep understanding of their growing-up years, I was able to help each of them understand their underlying fears, and by the third session with them, I was able to help them understand that, even though they were taking better care of their feelings, their relationship system was continuing to re-traumatize them. This they could not heal alone; they needed to help each other heal. 

I asked Marcus: “When you are numbed out and withdrawn, what would help you?”  

“To be left alone, rather than be pulled on with Janice’s anger and neediness.”

“Janice, are you willing to do this?”

“I will try,” she said, “but it’s hard for me to leave him alone without getting angry.”

“I understand,” I said, “and that is your learning edge.”

 Then I asked Janice what she needed when she was triggered into her aloneness and terror. She didn’t know. I offered a suggestion.

“Janice, when you are triggered into what both of you are calling neediness, what’s actually happening is that you are in a trauma state of a small child. You can’t show up for yourself as a loving adult when this trauma is being triggered. Marcus, what Janice needs from you is the opposite of what you need from her. She needs you to move close to her, find your love for her, put your hand on her heart, and say, “Honey, I love you and I’m not going to leave you alone. I’m here for you.” 

The light bulb went on for both of them as Marcus put his arms around Janice. Tears were running down their cheeks.

“I can do that,” Marcus said. “I didn’t understand before that Janice wasn’t pulling on me and manipulating me like my mother did. I didn’t understand that she just needed to know that she wasn’t alone.”

Letting a very scared loved one know that they are not alone – that you are there for them. – whether that involves stepping back and giving them the space they need, such as with Marcus, or whether it involves moving closer, even offering gentle touch, as with Janice – might be the very best gift you can give them.

There is one ongoing resolution that I hope you all make – the resolution of a compassionate intent to learn about loving yourself and others. One of the most important aspects of Inner Bonding is opening to a compassionate intention to learn.

I think a lot about love and compassion. Compassion is often more than people think it is.

Compassion does include the standard definition: the ability to feel empathy with another or others who are suffering, to be moved by the suffering and to want to help alleviate it. 

But compassion is so much more.

It’s my experience that like love, we don’t generate compassion within ourselves; we open to it. Compassion, like love, peace, joy, grace, and true wisdom, are gifts of spirit that we experience when we are open to learning about loving ourselves and others. These gifts are what the universe is. Compassion is a bright, light, loving energy that deeply connects you with yourself, others, animals, and the planet.

It’s a feeling that enters your heart when you surrender to your guidance. To feel compassion requires that you can feel empathy for others, which narcissists and sociopaths are not able to feel. Empathy and compassion create a very deep resonance with someone, so that you feel what the other is feeling in your own being. When you feel empathy and compassion for another, you feel a kind of partnership and a connectedness with that person – a sense of oneness with them.

To truly feel this level of empathy and compassion for another or others, we need to be able to feel it for ourselves. We need to start with compassion for ourselves in order to extend it to others, to all of life, and to the planet. This means that, instead of being resistant to loving ourselves, loving ourselves and others becomes our guiding light.

Compassion Is a powerful antidote to what ails us.

Learning to bring compassion for ourselves, and then taking loving actions for ourselves, is a key to health, inner peace, joy, and loving relationships. Learning to see and value ourselves is essential for seeing and valuing all of life. We cannot do this when we are stuck in our ego wounded self, resistant to taking responsibility for learning to love ourselves.

Physical and emotional self-abandonment, which results from resisting being a loving adult, is a major cause of illness, anxiety, depression, addictions, and relationship problems. Compassion for ourselves is basic to healing self-abandonment and creating health, peace, and loving relationships.

We cannot do harm to ourselves, others, animals, and the planet when we open to love, empathy, and compassion, rather than allow our ego wounded self to judge ourselves and others and avoid responsibility for our feelings with addictions and blaming others.

What ails us, our relationships, and our planet are the unloving actions that come from our intent to control and avoid responsibility for ourselves, which is what the ego wounded self is all about. Self-abandonment results in self-loathing, which people then project on to others in the form of racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, and in the form of the greed that is wreaking havoc with our environment.

Compassion is the opposite, because we need to be open and in surrender to our higher guidance to feel compassion, and our guidance would never guide us to harm ourselves, others, or the planet. 

I encourage you today, right now, to make the one New Year’s resolution that is most vital to make:

“I resolve to practice opening to learning about loving myself and others with my higher guidance and inviting love and compassion into my heart for myself, others, and the planet.”

This is a most important choice – the most important resolution – you can make for yourself, your health, your relationships, your inner peace and joy, and for our planet. This one choice will lead to loving yourself, loving others, loving animals, and loving our planet. It will lead you out of anger, blame, and projected self-loathing, and into taking personal responsibility for your own feelings.

Most importantly, this one resolution will lead you into experiencing the state of oneness that we so deeply need to heal our ravaged planet. It’s time for us to experience what science has proven – that we are all connected to each other and to all of life.

Loving actions prevail when you feel your oneness – within yourself, with others, with all of life and with the planet; starting with love, empathy, and compassion for yourself, and then extending that to others and our planet, is a doorway to healing what ails us.

Imagine the world we would have if we learned to be the unconditional love that is spirit.

I hope you join me for my online video 30-Day course to heal your relationships: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.

You can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:

And we have much to offer you at our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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