Sunday, 7 April 2013
So Help Me, If I Don't Behave I Will Turn Myself Around And Go Right Home!
One of the weirdest things about growing up is when you get past the initial 'ha ha, I'm in charge of myself and I can do whatever I want!' glee spasm...
... and realise that this means that you are the adult in charge.
Yes, you can do whatever you want now but you have to look at the consequences and make the hard calls to make sure that you don't miss out on what you want long term because you were too caught up in the joys of the short term.
Essentially, you become your own strict parent.
You are the angel on your own shoulder as well as the demon on the other.
Whether you hear echoes of your mother or father as your inner voice prompts 'do you really need that?' as you reach towards the supermarket shelf, or you just hear your own voice saying 'you'll regret that later and there is other shit you should be doing with that time/money', the fact remains:
You are the authority figure in your own life*.
And like being an authority figure anywhere you have to figure out how to make this work for you.
Do you respond better to bribing or 'firm but fair' reasoning?
I know something that doesn't tend to work well for me - at least in the long run - is threats or punishments.
For a while I successfully dragged myself out to start the day by telling myself that any day I hit the snooze button, I wouldn't be allowed to use the internet for personal/recreational reasons that day.
It eventually lost its power because I've never been a disciplinarian by nature, I'm not very good at being imposing or stern.
And like they say 'never make a threat you aren't prepared to follow through on or you will lose your credibility'.
The first time I slept in and then let myself fuck around on the internet later in the day was the death knell of that particular tactic.
Finding a way to reward or incentivise yourself without invalidating the good behaviour** can be a bit tricky but you have to work out what works for you otherwise you just end up berating yourself for your actions but not doing anything to change them.
I'm still fine tuning my own approach as I am both incredibly reluctant to get into the bed at the end of the day and incredibly reluctant to get out of it come the next morning and this kind of 'you know you'll be annoyed with yourself later but you don't care enough to stop yourself now' bad habit is a fairly typical example of 'things I am trying to knock off but uuuuhhhhhhhh'.
I'm better at other things like budgeting, planning trips or projects, making myself decent meals.
I just need to work out how to bring those skills to things like getting out of bed, putting down that book, not having that many biscuits with a cup of tea.
I still feel like a complete imposter when people react to me like I'm a grown up but I fully expect to feel that way when I'm shuffling towards my final rest so I'm not too fussed about that any more.
Get past that first stumbling block so that I can make self-control automatic rather than a big pouting tantrum in the middle of my frontal lobes and I'll be unstoppable!
Or at least getting started earlier!
*Or at least you should be. Once you're a grown up you should at least get an equal vote in decisions that concern you.
**"If you go to the gym you can have a pizza for dinner and a bowl of ice-cream the size of your head for dessert!"