New Years and the Traitor

The New Year is a great time to set yourself on a thriving path or make some corrections regarding the path you are already on. Hopefully your angel characters will lead the way, helping you use the looking back you did at the end of the year to create a viable vision for you for this year.

The problem so many of us face is that our traitors disguise themselves as angels and set us up for failure or, at least, a good deal of suffering. Here's how it goes:

Take One:

Angel (A): This year, I want to focus on all aspects of my life: my physical health, work life, family life, friends and social network, and for some spiritual and/or religious life.

Traitor masquerading as an Angel (TA): That sounds great. Let's also address creative endeavors. What would life be if it weren't for beauty?

A: Okay, we can add that. But it all feels a bit overwhelming.

TA: Don't worry. You can do it all. You have lots of stamina and drive. I'm sure you'll do just great.

A: Well, it still feels like too much. I want to be successful, so I think it makes sense to start smaller.

TA: No way. You'll feel great when you accomplish all this. Really you will. Let's do it.

Fast forward to the end of January/early February. Most of the commitments that started have already stopped. How could that be? There was such a strong desire, a strong sense of optimism, and a commitment to move forward. Yes, but...there were too many resolutions, each with big enough thresholds that it took Herculean measures to keep your agreements with yourself.

Let's redo the dialogue above and do a Take Two, this time with an Angel voice that recognizes the traitor dressed as an angel.

Take Two:

The Angel starts in the same way, making a statement of desire regarding focuses for the new year.

Another Angel voice emerges (A2): If you want to tackle all that, let's focus on one of two areas each month. That way, we can make a bit of movement forward in all areas over the course of the year. Which area do you want to start with?

TA: That's ridiculous. We can do it all. Let's just use our great self-discipline. I'm sure it will all work out.

A2: No way. That is a recipe for disaster. I know that being overly optimistic is a set up. It is easy to feel seduced by doing all these great and wonderful things for myself but I will feel worse if I am not successful. I would rather start small and then add to it.

TA: You are being a coward. I really think you can do more than you're giving yourself credit for.

A: That may be the case, but I would rather find out that I've done a few things well than give up because I'm overwhelmed. I can always add more if I am doing well.

TA: But you won't. You'll get complacent and do nothing. I know you will.

A: That is more likely to happen if I make a lot of commitments than if I make a few with low thresholds and then I follow through. I tell you what. I'm going to start with a couple with low thresholds and then we'll check back and evaluate in eight weeks and see how we're doing.

Though the second dialogue may not seem as optimistic and positive facing as the first, over the long run it is more likely to get carried out. Therefore, it is a stronger angel position. Being able to recognize a traitor masquerading as an angel is imperative as we make our New Year's resolutions.

From my angel characters to yours: With hopes that you experience joy, peace, fulfillment, meaningful work, loving relationships, all the other wonderful aspects of life that you want, and the resilience to deal with all the challenges that emerge.

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith Bell, M.S., Master LHEP™

Judith is the founder and president of Rewire Leadership Institute®. A master facilitator, consultant, teacher, and coach, she has created and facilitated personal growth, team development and organizational change seminars, coached executives and teams, facilitated strategic planning and high visibility meetings, and supported culture change for over four decades. Judith works with a diverse range of companies from government agencies, non-profit, Fortune Global 500, to small and mid-sized family owned businesses including such organizations as NASA, Seaflow, Total Oil, Restoration Hardware, San Antonio Water System, and Culver Company.

Superb at supporting individuals, pairs, and teams in developing the skills necessary to realize their full potential, Judith helps executives, managers, and staff gain the ability to respond flexibly and rapidly to their changing environment. Through extensive experience and research, she utilizes a number of different approaches including the FIRO theory, systems theory, cybernetics, neuroscience, cognitive, positive, and success psychology.

As one of the world’s leading experts on the FIRO theory, she trains consultants internationally. A consultant’s consultant, Judith mentors facilitators, coaches, therapists and other professionals in the integration of the FIRO theory in their work. From 1981 until 2004, she worked closely with Dr. Will Schutz, the creator of FIRO theory. Independently, Judith developed FIRO Theory Profiling, which has been lauded as the first innovation in the FIRO theory instruments aside from Dr. Schutz’ own developments. She continues to develop courses that synthesize her studies and experience and are based in FIRO theory.

Starting in her teenage years, Judith has been a pioneer in her passion for authenticity, clear communication, and positive change. She is lauded for her ability to see others’ potential and help them realize it—be they individuals, pairs, teams, or organizations. Judith’s zest for life, appreciation for others, and generosity of spirit inspires those with whom she works.

An honor’s student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Judith’s desire and passion to learn about authenticity motivated her to move her studies to The Institute for Creative and Artistic Development (ICAD) in Oakland, California. As the youngest student in their teacher training program, she created and graduated with an undergraduate degree that focused on authenticity through California State University, Sonoma. Continuing on her quest to study authenticity and creativity, Judith began taking courses at California State University, Hayward where she also created and graduated with a unique Master’s degree that focused on communication, transformation, and the creative arts.

Interested in systems and change, Judith began experimenting with her innovative action-oriented approach to assess and intervene with families, groups, and organizations. Through this work, she became a much sought-after instructor, training masters and doctoral students in her seminal work. As chair of a psychology program focused on Creative Arts Therapies at Antioch University, San Francisco, she developed curriculum and continued to serve as guest faculty and lecturer at universities nationwide.

In addition to leading Rewire Leadership, Judith and her husband, Daniel Ellenberg, co-founded Relationships That Work®, where she serves as Vice President. She and Daniel co-authored Lovers for Life: Creating Lasting Passion, Trust, and True Partnership, which applies the principles of Rewire Leadership Institute® to romantic relationships. Recently, they co-authored a chapter in Mastering the Art of Success: Volume 8. With Matt White, Judith recently co-authored Leading with Courage.

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