Compulsivity and Change

Between stimulus and response, there is a space.

In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.*

STIMULUS —————> Freedom to Choose –————> OUR RESPONSE

For years it has been a compulsive habit to chew my nails.  Frankly it’s a disgusting habit, and it is an instant signal to me (and to others unfortunately) that I’m feeling insecure.  When I was in high school I noticed that my very accomplished and well-educated teacher had disgusting, chewed to the quick, nails.  And I realized in that moment, which felt extremely profound to me as an 11th grader, that my teacher was  insecure.  And if you combined the fact that she over-weight, in my mind, she was extremely insecure.

My take away, I was not the only one! I know it seems strange, but at that point in my life, I was self-aware enough to see that I was insecure I didn’t realize that other people were too.  But in that amazing moment in my class I accepted that other people were insecure too.  I will never forget it.

What makes us so afraid of change? It takes three weeks to make a habit, supposedly.  So are we basically lazy, or don’t believe in ourselves enough to change, do we think we somehow deserve what we have, or are we afraid of change?  I’ve been thinking a lot about this as I work on internal and external issues.  Internally, I am working on liking myself and acknowledging good and positive things about myself.  Externally I am working on liking myself and fixing the things I don’t like.  Actually, I’m working on change in both places.

But it’s seriously more familiar to stick my head in the sand, as they say, and just ignore the scale, my energy level, my moods, my low esteem for myself, and the good people in my life that love me and accept me.  Even as I write I can see how screwy it is.  But, it is….what it is.

But I’m working toward looking for the indicators in my life that say other truths.  Although I have some friends who have said that I’m too difficult, manipulative, unpredictable, mean-spirited ….  I have others who have said my story, my experiences, my processing my pain, helps them.  Do I focus on the one that feels like rejection or on the positive?

Well, you know what I do choose, habitually and compulsively. The NEGATIVE!

Listening to those positive people, it doesn’t mean that the others were wrong.  Alcoholics are manipulative.  I am broken. Many times extremely dysfunctional.  I am needy.   I a’m impulsive.  I am unfaithful.  I’m … see how easy it is to make that list? (Deep breath.)  But not always.  Not completely.  And I’m working to change. I cannot change the past, and even some relationships I can’t fix.  As much as that hurts, I can’t stay there.  And I trust that some day, something redemptive will happen there.

But for now, it’s on to mastering my life!

So, about the life change:  I’ve been dieting and exercising for two weeks, Sunday, and had gotten pretty discouraged because I wasn’t losing weight more quickly.  I started at 168.5 and yesterday, at noon the scale still said 165, which makes me fucking furious. (Please excuse my cursing.  It’s a inelegant habit.  Perhaps one of these days I’ll work on it too, but until then …)

Today I was finally at 163!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’ve changed two things.

1) I weighed myself first thing in the morning, before I got ready for the day, before eating, drinking my coffee, and exercising, and it was lower. Wahoo!

2)  I actually think I may have been eating too few calories, so as Tom has told me a million times, my body thinks I’m starving it and goes into hoarding calories.  It is impossible to lose weight in those circumstances. And although the fact is weird, I just lose my appetite when I’m not eating.  And I’m just compulsive enough to not slam a bunch of carbohydrates if I happen to feel hungry, like I normally would.  A chocolate croissant or even a Big Mac for lunch, yes that is me.   (Did you know a Big Mac is 600 calories or something?  That’s like half the day’s calories if you’re watching it.) So instead I’d have a couple pieces of string cheese or a hand full of almonds or a protein bar, none of which is more than 200 calories and not enough for a meal.

Anyway, lessons for life.  Making positive change in your life is firstly about believing in yourself.  Deciding, just for today, I’m going to do something different.  Not glancing back at yesterday, for it is likely to have some failures.  And NOT looking at it like it is for the rest of your life.  It’s today.   What am I eating that is in the positive column, if you will: fruit, veggies, protein, even carbs if they are grains that are good for you.  Did I exercise in any manner.  Why not a 15 minute walk?  or, something else.

If I’ve learned anything about this alcohol addiction it is live for today.  Today is the one I can do something about, not yesterday, and not tomorrow.   Just this minute.   Make it count.

* The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Familes, Stephen R. Covey

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