A new year’s resolution list from 2016 popped up in my Facebook memories this morning. I guess I was doing that getting healthy challenge course that I’d signed up to, with no eating after 9pm, drinking more water etc. etc. Definitely healthy things, but yet the rigid rules while initially attractive turned out to be really unhealthy for me.
Give me rules and the first thing I’ll try to do is game the system.
Rather than listening to my body and its needs, I was attending to myself based on a list of generic rules. I think that there are guidelines that suggest what things are probably healthy for most people, but as soon as I put hard numbers and rules on things I’m asking for rebellion in my brain.
Sorry to hark back onto alcohol again, but it’s true there as well. Every time I tried to stop drinking “by rule” it was a failure; Only drink at weekends = drink a week’s worth of alcohol at the weekend whether I really “want” to or not, Dry January = Hella Wet February, and every time I put one of these constraints on myself, removing them didn’t seem to remove the extreme behaviour that had now popped up in reaction to the initial constraint even though it was now gone.
It was only when I shifted my thinking to ask myself “What do you want?” and it turned out alcohol wasn’t the thing I wanted. Not when I looked at the full picture of it. Maybe “feeling comfortable in society” or “not being bored” or “escaping the panic and stress I’m currently experiencing” or “having a reward because adult life is really ridiculously unexpectedly hard” were the things I wanted. I still feel like those are things I want, of course I do.
I’m ashamed to say that I’m plastering over those needs with chocolate and tv still. The deal is meant to be that I learn to tolerate those feelings. Not even just tolerate either, but explore and investigate and resolve the truth of them. Stuff I’ve read seems to imply that I’ll then find that what I thought I was experiencing wasn’t what was really there after all, but rather some deeper truth that will help me grow as a person and be more centred and more of myself throughout my life.
Of course I’m getting nowhere close to finding anything like that out because I’m unwilling to put up with the discomfort of spending all that much time with myself.
That’s not true, is it? I mean I honestly believe that I’m willing to do the work, to spend time with sad and difficult feelings – I do spend time with sad and difficult feelings all the time and I still pull myself through the basics of life and taking care of some of my adulting tasks and work and parenting and everything. I do, right?
Outlook Not So Good.
Based on the evidence of how I spend my evenings I’m basically not willing to put up with even five minutes of uncomfortable feelings without plastering over them with whatever I have to hand. And if I’m forced out of that comfort-zone I get cranky and shouty as hell until someone lets me back in. Ensconced in blankets with trivially interesting stuff to read and prick my intellectual ego with, art to digest but not create, the performance-friendship of social media where we each throw out a crafted nugget of our lives for sharing and sweep the messy reality under the carpet of the analogue world. The real world feels less real day by day. We’ve developed so many amazing methods of escaping from it.
It’s starting to feel like it would be harder to not escape anymore. I mean, take out the fact that I want to escape, especially after I’ve spent a day at work. I’m done by dinner time. I’m in full-on “I deserve! I deserve! I deserve!” mode.
I’m such a child. Don’t I realise yet that deserving is beside the point? What do I want? And not just what do I want right now and here tonight (but also that). What do I want long term? What choice in the here and now brings me closer to that. Yeah, okay, good – that’s grown up and wise. But even without considering the longer term future, don’t I want to be here and living my actual life anyway? Aren’t the immediate consequences of being present enough of a reason to want to experience it all.
It’s just so hard to change.