By Yashi Jain
As we inch towards a new year, at the back of our minds, all of us are meditating and brooding over the episodes from this year that did not go our way and attributes we would want to change and give a facelift to in the upcoming year. However, 95 percent of us who are so hopeful about seeing the new versions of ourselves in the upcoming year will give up on our resolutions just two weeks into the new year.
The norm so far
It is human nature to keep setting various goals ranging from physical health, mental health, letting go of a bad habit or developing a new and healthy one. Some of these efforts see the light of day while most of them go down the drain. The success stories give us hope that change is possible and we start to imagine a better, more successful and healthy versions of ourselves. Most of us even experience the initial success and are able to stick to our diet or our study routine but more often than not these are followed by relapses and we are back to the mundane.
Sounds a lot like your story? There are two questions that arise from the similar patterns of relapses that all of us experience. One – What is the science behind these relapses? Two – How to avoid this and actually bring about change? Answering these two questions psychologists Janet Polivy and C. Peter Herman in 2000 came up with a theory called “false hope syndrome”. A syndrome which if we are able to avoid can make us achieve all our goals and resolve to be finer versions of ourselves.
Ambitious targets and the relapses
The answers to both the questions are somewhat intertwined. The reason why we revert to our older ways is that we tend to overestimate what we can actually achieve. We often have unrealistic expectations of real change. There are four key areas where we usually lose this rationale to judge our expectations according to the report presented by the psychologists. They are – “the amount of change desired or expected; the speed with which the change will be accomplished; the ease of accomplishing the change; and the effects of the change on other aspects of one’s life.” We anticipate that we will change quicker and easier than is actually humanly possible. Once the reality hits us after two weeks of trying our best and not reaching the desired overambitious result, we tend to get frustrated and lose hope altogether, and eventually relapse.
This phenomenon of wanting to bring about unreasonable change with a false sense of hope is termed as “false hope syndrome” and may also lead to a false sense of confidence. While predicting our goals and future we forget our past failures as well as previous relapses and convince ourselves that we are capable of achieving the unworkable target.
Making the resolutions a reality
Let us not get dejected and perceive this in a false light. Hope is good, it is what drives us every day. What needs to be avoided, are unrealistic and irrational targets and goals. We must remind ourselves that the process is about gradual and attested change. Knowing that change is not easy to achieve and cutting ourselves some slack can actually help us stick to our resolutions for longer periods and see more growth. Self-confidence and real hope are, in fact, a powerful factor one should possess whilst on the journey of change.
Replacing false hope with real hope is key here. In order to achieve the goals that one has set for themselves for the coming years, make sure they’re achievable, realistic goals. Developing coping machinations in order to help oneself contend with setbacks (that are usually unavoidable when trying to bring about self-change) is also key. With this simple shift in our thought process, we can all be achievers who do not just make/dream new year resolutions, but also follow through and make them happen.
Featured Image Source: Pexels
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