Coming up to the one month mark of dropping the mask and taking a little look at the negative feelings I’ve been attempting to bury or cope with. Time for a stock take.
1. I no longer have a salt addiction. I no longer have that “mouth hungry” feeling that is so hard to resist. This is amazing because it also means that 90% of the time, if someone else is having a snack I don’t have any desire to also prepare myself a little pointless bite to eat.
2. I can feel the point at which my stomach is full during meal time. Last night I shared a vegetarian pizza with the family. I had a one-third portion which I knew would be enough for me. Curiously, I felt full when I was half way through my portion. I congratulated myself on recognising the full feeling.
3. I can feel the immediate impact junk food has on my comfort. For example, I decided to have an evening snack a few days ago, and noticed that my teeth did not feel as nice as they have been when it came to bed time. I didn’t like that feeling of going to bed with a mouth that was slightly unpleasant.
4. My emotions are all over the shop and that’s okay. I’ve had days where I was steaming mad, ranting about the injustices of the world. And then I had a good talk with an old smart friend and felt less outraged about it all. There have been other days where I am stunned by the wonder of the world, and everyone in it is amazing and full of promise. I’ve had nights of insomnia and other nights of restful undisturbed repose. I note these things, occasionally take action and other times wallow in the experience.
1. Making snap decisions based on feelings alone is unhelpful. When in the thrall of strong emotions (wild optimism, fierce anger, black depression) and I decide I must do something immediately to resolve or soothe or sustain my mood, it results in action that isn’t necessarily in my long-term interest. The way to examine if an idea is a good one requires the next step.
2. Reflection on my highest values is the more reliable guide. When there is a match between a course of action and the ideals I value most, the opportunity for satisfaction or even joy becomes more likely. My friend Woowoo, for example, loves an adventure. She has had an eventful life, and her best stories always involve striding out into the great unknown. For me, adventure is not critical for me to find joy. I can find thrilling surprises on my daily walk, or in conversation with dear friends. Our highest values are very individual, and that is totally okay.
3. The experience of others is of incredible value. Reading widely about different kinds of people trying to overcome a variety of challenges broadens my own tool chest of coping behaviours. Engaging with the WordPress community has been very useful in this regard. It also lessens the fear of making a mistake or falling off my programme. My experience is not unique. My problems are not bizarre or unsolvable. My personality is not deeply flawed. Me and my life fit within the spectrum of normal human experience. I don’t need to buy anything or subscribe to any guru programme to navigate this life. All I need to do is pay attention, listen, reflect, try something new, see what I think, tweak and adjust, repeat.
4. Masking emotion blocks reflection and limits learning opportunities. If I snack (or drink, or shop online) instead of asking why am I so angry, bored or sad I will never reflect on what actually is within my ability to change in my environment.
5. Many coping behaviours are not inherently bad. A lot of coping behaviours can be used effectively in line with broader personal goals. I can drink and snack on special occasions when my family gather together, both situations building on each other to be pleasurable and special. I can shop online in the process of learning more about my family history, making the fun behaviour an integral part of a long-term valuable goal. I can game online with my relatives who live far away, fostering fun connections and within some personal guidelines around the nature and timing of the behaviour.
6. Feeling terrific does not mean I’ve crossed the finish line. The Pink Cloud experience might be common to many efforts to make positive change in life. Building habits to the point where they are automatic is a long process. A habit that has reached this stage won’t generate thrills. I don’t swoon with enthusiasm when I wash my face every morning. I don’t look in the mirror and exclaim, “Damn, girl, look at your bad self with no crusties running down your face!” I just do it. I don’t even notice I’m doing it. But not having goobers in my eyes is a great thing and a social good.