Have you failed your New Year’s resolutions yet?

New Year's ResolutionsNew year. Again. Resolutions. Again. Failed… again!

It fascinates me the power attributed to the passing of one year to the next. The New Year clearly brings about a sense of new chance, a start over, a clean sheet, pointing perhaps to the cyclical nature of endings and beginnings in life. And with the New Year comes the ritual of trying to let go of the failures and shortcomings of the past, and the desire to focus on the promise of an ideal future as if we’re given another chance. Then comes another set of New Year’s resolutions (how much do they resemble the ones from the year before?)…

But who are we kidding? Isn’t a new year’s resolution an enlarged version of the ‘I’ll start my diet on Monday’? And when Monday comes and you can’t help but eat that piece chocolate that tastes like heaven but makes you feel like hell, the rest of the week is written off and you promise to start again next Monday, or the next, or the next… So really a new year’s resolution is but a statement of the procrastination we exercise yearlong.

We all know what we are lacking, what we need improve and look after in our lives. We know we need to lose weight, and for that we must eat more healthily and exercise more. We know the people in our lives we must pay more attention to, and the relationships we must work harder to improve. We are fully aware of the books we wish to read, the courses we want to take, or the bad habits we have to change in order to become a better person. But why don’t we then? Why wait until the New Year to make a promise that will be broken with the same easiness and speed as they are spoken. If we know what we need to work on, why not do it now?

Easier said than done, isn’t it? The reality is that we carry in our minds an ideal version of ourselves, crafted throughout the years, created in the image and likeness of those we admire, love, envy and fear. This Ego Ideal, as Freud called, is an image of our perfect self towards which we aspire, but it can acquire both an inspiring and tyrannising purpose. Our inner ideals can lead us to a healthy pursuit for the better, but it can also crush us under the cruel reality of our failures and shortcomings, be them real or imaginary.

So really, why punish ourselves every year with ideals we know we won’t achieve? Because we can’t help it. It’s within our nature to have things to aspire, and to have things to feel guilty about. We have in us instincts that lead to improvement and development, and instincts that lead to self-defeat and destruction. The challenge then is to stop attributing responsibility to a calendar, and take ownership of the fact that in life there will always be things to improve, to work on, as much as there will always be things to feel bad about within ourselves. But there will also be numerous chances to learn from our failures, shortcomings and to work towards developing the bits of ourselves that need improvement. And this is a minute after minute chance, not just every New Year. So, what stops you from starting now?

If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.

Happy New Year!

Allan Gois – Psychotherapist LondonPsicologo Brasileiro em Londres


There is no cure for life

Have you ever stopped to think about how much choice we have nowadays? For example, there are 500+ channels on my TV, and if there’s ‘nothing on’ I can immediately choose something else on demand from the many stream services on offer. Or perhaps I can go to YouTube and watch exactly what I want, when I want it (not without getting extremely anxious as I wait for 5 seconds before I can desperately click on ‘Skip Ad’).

It’s all very different from the time when we only had 3 channels on TV, and the internet was a distant science fiction dream. In those days, if there was something we didn’t like being aired, we just had to sit through it and wait for the next show. I even learned to enjoy things that I didn’t like before, just because I had to endure them in the first place.

I worry that things like target advertising (where they only show you what might be of your interest) are both reflection and contributor to our diminished attention span. What about the things I don’t yet know whether I like or don’t like? If we only get to see what is of our interest, how can we discover new exciting things in life? The modern age frantic focus on what’s hot, interesting and desirable, moving from one thing to the other and chucking out everything else resembles the dynamics that are in place in the Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), as an exacerbation of a manic search for instant gratification.

As nowadays we can just pick and choose pretty much anything, I can’t help but think that all this choice have diminished our capacity to endure what we don’t like, to tolerate frustration and just get on with things. As a result, we see people reacting with absolute shock and horror to the somewhat normal conflicts of life, as if they should never have to face anything else but good and happy feelings. So being sad, anxious, depressed, unmotivated or anguished is experienced as an anomaly that needs to be gotten rid of. Normal ‘facts of life’ then become persecutors against this illusion we create for ourselves, that we should all be happy and only doing the things that make us feel good.

As a psychotherapist in London I have the privilege of coming across an amazing diversity of people, which puts me in touch with all sorts of life stories. And this experience has taught me that, one way or another, we all will be confronted with the reality we so much try to avoid, thus having to face the facts of life, challenging things like separation, illnesses, jealousy and envy, greed and betrayal, insecurities and uncertainties. And then we have to choose whether to accept and face this facet of reality, or to remain in the fantasy that things ‘shouldn’t be this way’.

Life is what it is, and there is no cure for it. Life brings amazing, interesting and exciting experiences, but also a lot of boring, negative, difficult and annoying things. And somehow it all makes more sense if we stop trying to madly ‘switch channels’ in an effort to only see what we like, and instead take life for what it is and learn from each experience.




Allan Gois – Psychotherapist in London – Psicologo Brasileiro em Londres


First lesson…

Welcome to the first post of my new blog – The Psychotherapist. This will be a space for reflection about some experiences in life we can all learn from. It will also be a place for sharing useful information and some important lessons I learn from my work as a psychotherapist in London. My hope is that you, the reader, will be able to engage with my musings and that this will be helpful for your journey.

But what to write on a first blog post? Well, when I was doing some research into what makes a blog successful, I kept stumbling upon a very useful piece of advice: post as often and as consistently as you can. In other words: be constant and consistent. And then it dawned on me that this was not just useful for blog writing, nor only for the activities one might engage on, but that it actually pointed to an important principle in life.

My father once said something that got my attention when I was a younger. It was not very poetic, but it contained an important message. His saying (or almost a short story) was: “I know a lot people who have nothing in life. Do you want to know why? I’ll tell you why: it’s because they never finish what they have started.” Perseverance, reliability, constancy and consistency are not magical secrets for success, but they surely contribute a great deal for things to work out in many aspects of life.

On the other hand, broken promises, failed resolutions, disappointing half-ends can also become a constant, and this negative constancy can fuel our sense of failure. Regret and resentment can then take place, as we ask ourselves: if only we continued with what we once started, that diet, going to the gym, a course, a relationship – if only… In fact, regret and resentment can bring our lives to a literal standstill.

Doctors say that taking only half of the course of antibiotics can actually make the bacteria stronger. I think the same can be applied to the fluctuations between our trying and failing. If we break consistency, we begin to falter. And as we begin to fail, that oppressive and incriminating part of us becomes enhanced and can become all the more cruel.

Our own resistance to pursue the things we know will be beneficial to us is also striking. Self-sabotaging is one of the most puzzling things I encounter in my practice as a psychotherapist. The capacity to undermine ourselves, to cruelly make us fail can be hard to understand. So to say that consistency is an easy principle to follow would be a lie. But it is a great principle to aim towards. In fact, part of how psychotherapy works is actually by promoting consistency and constancy, in a way that perseverance and reliability both from therapist and patient are paramount.

So my struggle to keep up with this blog is but a fraction of my innate disposition to break consistency, to seek failure no matter how noble the intentions are. As for this to work, I’ll keep on posting. And from your end, please keep turning up!


Allan Gois – Psychotherapist in London – Psicoterapia en Espanol Londres