Don’t be Seduced by January’s Messages

Don’t be Seduced by January’s Messages

- in Health, Parenting
Joanna Hardis, Cleveland, Ohio

As I write this, I’m bracing for the onslaught of January ads, each one trying to speak over the other promoting self improvement: schemes, coupons, Groupons, gadgets and apps to help us all lose weight, find love, look younger, be smarter, dress better, be sexier… you name it. With a hope and a dream — and cash, credit or ApplePay — you, too, can buy into being better. Because the underlying message (sales platform) is that you are not good enough.

I’m here to offer an alternative to the January madness.

Instead of coming from a place of not good enough, what about coming from a place of good enough. I’m not saying we can’t improve ourselves, of course. On the contrary, my entire career centers on helping people improve themselves so that they can live a full life. But the January messages? They need to be tempered and reframed a bit. Luckily, I’m about to do just that.

1. You need to lose weight.
This is the big one, of course. There is nothing special about starting a diet or workout plan in January (or on a Monday). First of all, do you really need to lose weight? (Psst …not everyone does.) If you do, let’s be realistic about how much — and how fast. Some small changes can make a big difference, and sometimes that’s all it takes.

2. You need a boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife.
This time of year can be so hard if you’re single. It seems there’s a push to find love and be coupled, especially with Valentine’s Day merchandise already in stores. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be partnered, but being OK with doing you and doing you alone is an essential first step. Make sure you remind yourself of your worth, and, if you find yourself getting caught up in the “I’m nevers,” catch yourself. Remind yourself that you are OK just as you are.

3. You’ll be happy when…
Most messages are relying on you to buy in to the “what if” ending of the story: what if you used this product, service, gym, or gadget for six weeks? You’d be sexier, younger looking, thinner, richer — you name it! It’s the same “what if” loop that’s responsible for worry and anxiety. Instead, look at “what is” true right now. What’s going well?

I’m certainly not against change, but I encourage you not to jump to a quick fix because that’s what the January messages tell us. Let’s slow down, take stock, notice what’s going well, be grateful for that and be more deliberate in making changes if that’s what you decide to do.

A special note to parents: this is really important stuff, because kids are hearing the January messages, too. They’ll notice how you react, and it’s hard to teach our kids to love their body when we say horrible things about ours. We need to model, in words and actions, for our kids.

You’re not alone in this. Tap into your support system, and if you’d like to talk about a practical plan for change, contact me. Let’s talk!


Joanna Hardis, LISW, is a cognitive behavioral therapist in Shaker Heights. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook. Or learn more about how she can help you and your family at

About the author

Joanna Hardis, LISW, is a cognitive behavioral therapist in Shaker Heights, Ohio, focused on helping parents with the hardest job on earth. A mother of three herself, Joanna combines years of everyday parenting experience with professional training in the areas of anxiety; changing family dynamics, such as divorce; and obsessive-compulsive and eating disorders all in an effort to support, coach and empower parents of behaviorally challenging kids (which is pretty much all of them, right?). Joanna earned her undergraduate degree at Cornell University in New York and a master’s degree from Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University.

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