Welcome to my first word of 2016: Resolve. You may have expected me to say resolution. Interestingly, resolution is a word I dislike and yet resolve has always been a quiet favorite. Quiet because I don’t find myself using resolve when speaking or writing, I just like it. It sits in my bank of favorite words and provides me with inner strength when I’m contemplating a difficult situation.
Before I talk about my love for the word resolve, I’ll let you in on why I dislike resolution. Plain and simple, resolutions don’t work. For most of us they start with a bang and quickly fizzle out. Whether it’s a diet, exercise routine, or some new-wave self-improvement gig, if you’re still working at it by March it’s a miracle. I like things that start out small and gain strength as time progresses. I remember when making a tuna noodle casserole was intimidating but now, after forty years of reading cookbooks and experimenting, I can whip up a gourmet meal without a recipe. It was a learning curve that evolved over time rather than a resolution that ended after three months in the kitchen.
Resolve is most commonly used as a verb meaning to settle or make a decision. We resolve problems. The word gets a spot on my favorites list as a noun—a firm determination to do something. She approached the challenging situation with great resolve. Strength, determination—resolve. We get our resolve from within and rely on it when confronted with something difficult. When we feel confident we clearly see our strengths and can elicit the determination needed to complete almost anything. It’s those times when our confidence wanes that we need to look deeper within and access our resolve.
We all have situations we’d prefer to avoid. For me it’s initiating a conversation that I anticipate will make me uneasy or completing a task that’s completely out of my comfort zone, both related to a lack of confidence. My first reaction is to put it off for another day, make excuses or ignore the situation all together. But that usually results in either guilt or angst when I realize the conversation or task isn’t going away. Avoidance is never the easy way out. How many times have we told our children: The longer you wait to say you’re sorry the harder it is to do.
At these times, when I’m in avoidance mode, I think—gather up your resolve girl! The thought often ignites my strength and determination to approach the difficult. Years ago, when I was making a major career change, a friend gave me a card. I keep it in a frame on my desk. The saying speaks to me about resolve and the picture always makes me smile.
There’s one other use of the word resolve that I just love. In music, a resolve means going from dissonant sounds to harmonic; from the uncomfortable to the soothing. A resolve is pleasing to the ear when listening to music and a beautiful metaphor for our feelings. When we access our resolve and tackle a difficult situation we move from dissonance to harmonic. Our angst turns to relief and sometimes even inner peace. I just love the musical connection.
So, if you must make a New Year’s resolution have it be this: To be aware of your strength and determination. Be confident that you have the ability to tackle those dissonant situations with great resolve. Happy New Year!
Roberta Dolan is a former special education teacher with a master’s degree in counseling. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Roberta has made it her mission to end the silence of sexual abuse, lend support to survivors, and educate others on preventing child sexual abuse through seminars, her blog, Write to Survive, and website www.RobertaDolan.com. Say It Out Loud: Revealing and Healing the Scars of Sexual Abuse (She Writes Press 2014) is Roberta’s first book. A unique blend of memoir and how-to, the book offers strategies for healing from any type of personal trauma. Roberta is available to speak to book clubs, women’s groups and organizations on Healing and the Power of Saying it Out Loud.