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(RNS) — A new year is upon us and, as of my writing this, I’ve kept most of my resolutions. By the time this column goes live, I — and plenty of us — will have abandoned some, or all, of them.

Before we get down about failing again to stick to our New Year’s resolutions, it’s worth reflecting on what, exactly, our resolutions are designed to do. Some of our resolutions are constructive ones: read more books, work more efficiently, exercise daily. Others are negative promises: we vow to banish unwelcome elements from our daily existence, to abandon toxic friendships or habits, to dispense with the bad energy in our lives.

In the rhetoric of self-improvement, ridding ourselves of toxicity and bad energy is a matter of our social, physical and emotional health. But the notion is loaded with spiritual significance. We might even call this disavowal of a nebulous sense of badness an exorcism.

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