Oops, I did it again. Binge drank till 6 in the morning…then I spent the next day drowning in shame and self deprecation. And pizza. Lots of fuckin pizza. I’m so tired of this. The part that disappoints (and scares) me the most is that I really don’t want to do this anymore, yet I keep doing it. Like I don’t even have control over my own actions. Part of me feels very weary about framing it like this because it makes it seem like I’m a serious addict. Maybe I am… The thing is, I don’t do this all the time. It’s actually pretty infrequent. There are people who get wasted every weekend and suffer massive hangovers, but do it again, week after week. I think the difference is that I call it out. And then I obsess and beat myself up over it. Most of my friends go eat some pho and then do it again. Okay, this is beside the point. The fact is that I really, really don’t want to do something anymore, but I continue doing it. There’s obviously a part of me that doesn’t really want to stop: Ego. It knows it’s safe as long as I’m spinning through the vicious cycles of shame and regret. Well, this time, I’m not just going to say I’m going to stop, I’m going to actively pursue the destruction of this habit.
Awhile ago, I read William James’ maxims for the successful formation of new habits on Brain Pickings. I knew this would be the path, but I kept it tucked away because I wasn’t ready to give it up. I kept saying I was, but deep down I was too scared to see what would happen. In this case, it wasn’t a fear of failure. I wasn’t afraid that I wouldn’t be able to quit. What I was really afraid of was what would happen if I succeeded. If I don’t have my brutal hangovers to stand in my way anymore, then I’ll finally be free to unlock my potential. What if when I open the door, there’s nothing there? What if I’ve been operating at my best this whole time?
Well, luckily I know better than this, so I’m going to do it. I’m going to finally take my life into my own hands. According to William James, here’s what I have to do:
- In the acquisition of a new habit, or the leaving off of an old one, we must take care to launch ourselves with as strong and decided an initiative as possible. Accumulate all the possible circumstances which shall reinforce the right motives; put yourself assiduously in conditions that encourage the new way; make engagements incompatible with the old; take a public pledge, if the case allows; in short, envelop your resolution with every aid you know. This will give your new beginning such a momentum that the temptation to break down will not occur as soon as it otherwise might; and every day during which a breakdown is postponed adds to the chances of its not occurring at all.
- Never suffer an exception to occur till the new habit is securely rooted in your life. Each lapse is like the letting fall of a ball of string which one is carefully winding up; a single slip undoes more than a great many turns will wind again. Continuity of training is the great means of making the nervous system act infallibly right … It is surprising how soon a desire will die of inanition if it be never fed.
- Seize the Very first possible opportunity to act on every resolution you make, and on every emotional prompting you may experience in the direction of the habits you aspire to gain. It is not in the moment of their forming, but in the moment of their producing motor effects, that resolves and aspirations communicate the new ‘set’ to the brain.
This is what I want my days to look like, and this is my public pledge to make it my reality:
-Minimum 5 minutes.
-Something. Anything. 1 sentence. 1,000 words. Put words on paper. Put my truth on paper. Post it.
-Again, just something. Anything. A little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing. At a minimum, take a 10 minute walk. I can never say I don’t have time to do at least that.
- Do not go out to drink.
-Perhaps I’m making a brutal mistake here, but I’m not trying to quit drinking completely. I’m not saying that I never want to have another sip of alcohol again. I just don’t want to binge drink until the wee hours of the night and feel like shit for the next 2-3 days. Admittedly, I’m not mindful enough when it comes to this to be able to have a drink with friends without it turning into eight. Even a drink at a work function can spiral into an all nighter after a few calls. But, there is one circumstance under which I can maintain control and that is when I am with my boyfriend. So this is the one exception I will allow myself. Knowing myself, I know that if I were to try to just quit cold turkey, I would probably explode and just end up back at square one. I don’t believe this is a cop out. I think this is me really trying to set myself up for success.
- Do not eat garbage food.
-Another habit I have is eating really shitty food (there’s also some binging involved here as well). Not all the time, but even once a week is too much. I know that the mind and body are not separate and I believe that food is probably the most essential piece of the whole puzzle. Again, I don’t want to set myself up for failure so for the time being, I will set this parameter to mean – Do not eat from fast food establishments or big box chain stores. Places that I know are willing to take whatever means necessary to maintain profit and provide the most inexpensive product possible so as to make it virtually impossible for consumers to say no.
*Stop overthinking. Just try…or just Be.
-This last one is just something extra I want to try to work on. It will change from time to time, but to start, I want to tone down the obsessing. What I tend to do is just think and then overthink about doing something. It can be something as simple as taking out the trash – “But, I’m tired. I don’t want to walk all the way outside. It’s cold. I can do it tomorrow.” Or something a little more complicated, like learning how to watercolor – “What kind of brushes do I need? Maybe I should take a class. These people are so good, I could never be that good. What kind of paper is best? Should I use a tube or a pan?” Then I’ll spend hours on the internet watching videos or screenshotting things I want to try…only to tire myself out so that I put it off until next time. So…yeah. I want to stop thinking so much about what could happen and just fuckin try! I think this will help with all the other habits as I find that the best way for me to get myself to do something I don’t necessarily want to do is to not allow myself to even think about it. “You’re going to the gym, don’t even think about it, just get in your car and drive there!”
I woke up this morning and did a 30 minute guided meditation from the UCLA MARC’s (Mindfulness Awareness Research Center) weekly Podcast at the Hammer Museum on “Being With What Is.” http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=107
This blog post.
This almost didn’t happen. I decided in the morning I would go to the gym – I even went to work in my gym clothes so as to not have ANY excuse. I planned on stopping by the market before and picking up a few things, but on my way, I kept debating if I should just go to the gym first. The market takes me away from my house, so I just wanted a straight shot home when I was done. At the last minute, I decided I’d just do the extra drive and go to the market after. I decided this as I was waiting to make a left onto the street of the market. Of course the light turned yellow before I could get out and was forced to make a left. Then, I couldn’t make a right to go in the direction of the gym for another 3 blocks! Is this really happening? Ugh, should I just go home? But, I made a U-turn and decided to just go to the market first…and I was actually able to keep my resolve to go the gym after! I just did 20 minutes on the elliptical and sat in the dry sauna for 10 minutes, but it felt really good.
Do not go out to drink. ✅
I was supposed to have dinner tonight with a friend who’s leaving for a year. He also has similar self control problems and although I’m fresh off a hangover and most likely wouldn’t have drank, I still decided it was best not to take the chance so now we’re having lunch instead. He also invited me to a dinner with a bunch of friends tomorrow night, but I explained my new strategy of not putting myself in situations incompatible with my new commitment to stop binge drinking and politely declined.
Do not eat garbage food. ✖
My dad is currently sick and although I believe food is the most important thing he can do for himself, I’ve decided to just let him be and have what he wants during this time of recovery. He wanted a coffee from McDonalds. I knew I wanted to go to the gym and hadn’t had my snack to get me through it, so I ordered fries. At least it wasn’t an animal?
Stop overthinking. Just try…or just Be. ✅
-I almost didn’t put all this in writing. When I woke up this morning with the idea of this new resolution, I was excited and wanted to put it down on paper, but knew I didn’t have time to. I told myself, maybe during work, but if not, definitely when I come home. After I finished my dinner, I was tempted to just veg out and watch TV, but I got my ass up and walked to the computer.
-My boyfriend is upset with me right now. But, we haven’t talked about it for a few days. He said he doesn’t want to say something he’ll regret and just needs space for now. Usually, I’d be all over him, trying to force a talk or agonizing over what he’s upset about, what he’s going to say, what might happen. But, I’m actually, truly okay. I’m just being.