So here comes some decent advice from Psychology Today.
Consider the case of
George is always on a diet. He says his goal is to lose 20 pounds. He goes for a run every morning, eats a healthy breakfast, and chooses wisely when he takes clients out for lunch. But George sabotages his weight loss by keeping a cabinet full of junk food and “rewarding” himself with chips and cookies when he comes home hungry and tired.
Well, I feel for George. I feel his weariness, his hunger, his need to reward himself after another day surviving a soul-killing job in an environment of abuse and hypocrisy.
For me, it’s ice cream.
I think Big Pharma has been playing with us for some time. Are you telling me you can’t make a pill that makes you feel as good as a bowl of ice cream or a big piece of chocolate cake (with lots of icing)? Oh, yeah, we do have those (opiates) but if we start enjoying life to much from a pill, some of us will OD and well. . .
My wife takes pity on me when she buys groceries. When I’m melting under the couch, she’ll bring home the stuff I shouldn’t be eating but I do.
And it makes me happy – for an hour — then I feel guilty.
It’s not like I haven’t said no to myself.
Like this – no.
Sometimes, when I’m really feeling good, I’ll say it like this – no.
But I really need to say this – NO!
I remember an interview a long time ago with Boy George where he was discussing his drug addiction problem and referenced Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No’ campaign. He made the point that you can consciously say no but your body says, uh, I need those drugs and I need them NOW or you will PAY!
And for many of us who are depressed, these foods are a drug. A bad drug to be sure because the effects don’t last as long and have more calories than a Vicodin.
But there’s more to the article than conquering fat. Some of us engage in a lot of self-defeating activity of which, we are fully aware.
You may not apply for a promotion because you’ve already concluded that your co-worker is better qualified, or you give up on online dating because deep down you don’t think you’re pretty enough or young enough. You worry that you’ll fail, so it’s easier to not even acknowledge that you want a promotion or committed partner.
But of course, this can be learned behavior, rammed into your consciousness because it has happened over and over. What is never quite acknowledged by psychology is that many of us have these gun-shy tendencies because these things have happened no matter how confident we were at the time or how well we put our best foot forward. Once or twice, one can, reasonably, recover. Several times and many of us figure – why put ourselves out for more pain?
Yes, people have failed many times, stuck it out, and become a ‘success.’ But I would put it to you that they are different-minded people from the world of the walking wounded. If this sounds like excuses, spend a lifetime in our shoes.
I got to do almost everything I wanted and took very serious personal and career risks. It’s a miracle that I landed on my feet when I could have cashed in several times. But the older you get, the more risk-adverse you become (well, at least I did) because for many of us, we’ve escaped from potentially catastrophic incidents so many times, despite our condition, that many of us feel we may have used up our store of good fortune. And this is a very definite feeling.
For instance, at my age, the prospect of being assertive at work when I recently had a case of people laying a trap for me because of my behavior, is terrifying. At 53, who would hire someone who got booted from the Federal civil service? Thankfully, lessons were learned, meds were adjusted and things have become tolerable. But in the back of my mind there is still fear. And I’m afraid it will never leave.
And I am not alone in this.
One more bite at this article before I go. We’re giving some seriously mixed messages in our society today and here is an example.
The author of this piece, Sharon Martin LCSW, writes:
Allow yourself to dream big. Don’t be afraid to imagine a bright future for yourself. Expecting failure or catastrophizing won’t protect you from disappointment. It only keeps you stuck in a negative mindset.
Dream big, which to many of us, sounds like following our dreams, our passions.
But then Mike Rowe comes along and douses the fire:
“But when it comes to making a living, it’s easy to forget the dirty truth: just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.'”
The problem here is that both Martin and Rowe are right in their own way. I’d like to see them on a panel discussion. But here is the truth – one may suck at something that is their dream BUT if they never try, they’ll go to their grave wondering ‘what if?’
Rowe’s point also has a dirty little secret encapsulated inside of it — with the cost of higher education and the narrowing job market, the price of failure in America has never been as great. If you dream of being journalist, as I did in the 70s and 80s, you can go to J school, graduate with $100,000 or more in debt and find yourself working in a dying industry for $25,000 a year, IF you’re lucky enough to get a job.
So the bottom line here is this: is regret on your death bed a greater fear than poverty and disappointment? Or do you believe you will be one of the exceptions?
This is one of many struggles that become internalized more severely among people with depressive disorders.
So too many of us land up like Homer:
So stop the negative head talk and stop sabotaging yourself.
If you can.