A Secret to Souping Up Your Resolutions

Mark O'Connor, jazz violinist
It’s that time of year when many of us find our New Year’s resolutions have become tarnished. One of the best ways to recharge resolutions or other change efforts is called “utilization” in the psychotherapy world. First, you identify the aspect of yourself that you most want to reject or fight, and find a way to “utilize” (that is, to harness) it’s energy. The late hypnotherapist, Dr. Milton Erickson, is famous for doing this.

So what is the thing about you that you most want to eliminate? I suggest that you make this question a theme in your life for a while. Sometimes the thing is so obvious, that we pass right by it, looking for it. So the first phase might be all about auditioning candidates for the position (that is, thinking of many different aspects until you really hit the right one). Only then can you start finding ways to harness and express that drive in a surprising way that helps create a new chapter in your life. Again, instead of leaping to a conclusion, it’s probably best to give yourself time to run through many possiblities. Maybe even backtrack when you try one out, and go back to the drawing board.

For starters, I found a quote and a video that provide an example. In this case, music has provided a kind of salvation as well as expression for a man suffering from severe pain. The brilliant jazz violinist Mark O’Connor has severe cluster migraines. He wrote a blues piece as an expression of his pain. It goes from sorrowful, lonely blues into amazing intensity. In an interview, he described how the music&emdash;not just this piece&emdash;is both expression and salvation.

Start by watching this video of In the Cluster Blues, performed by the author, Mark O’Connor, and check out this quote from an interview of him.

Well there is the childhood, which parts of it I will never escape completely. But some other very painful things have developed since then. The name of the tune... I named it “in the cluster.” That is specific. Have you ever heard of cluster migraine? I have a chronic case, a curse really. The head pain comes in “clusters” and during those times, it is relentless pain. Look it up! Dubbed the suicide headache! I pray that no one experiences these. My ability to play this way like I do, is channeling the pain that I have and forcing it from myself. The screams, the wails. And then the loneliness of the melody at the end when the pain finally subsides. The blues is my autobiography and salvation. Overcoming great odds to make it and survive. Just to make music and please the others around me you know. That is what I was meant to do, and I needed that in my life.