A few weeks ago, after a particularly humid night on the soccer field with all three kids, I came home and simply sent them upstairs. No bedtime story, no cuddles in bed. I was spent and done, angry about the weather, exhausted that I was parenting alone, and determined to turn my day around.
I’m going to watch Orange is the New Black, have a beer give myself a break. I *never* unwind like this.. this is going to be amazing.
Fast forward about 4 hours and what was one beer, turned into 3 and one shandy, with a chaser of Oreo cookies leftover from the camping party. And it’s 1h30am. Miles away from my regular routine.
I slept in the following morning, skipped my meditation, half assed a SEVEN MINUTE EXERCISE PROGRAM (come ON) and the whole day was spent in a aimless fog. The lack of sleep, the UN-necessary beers and the Oreos : lethal combination if you’ spent the last 4 months working towards a more mindful day.
But I deserved it, didn’t I?
Having not felt the need for an evening like that in eons, I ended up realizing all too quickly that I was in the moment, numbing myself. Conscious that I was doing it, unable to stop myself. One beer, two beers, one Oreo, seven Oreos.
What we classify as reward often falls into the category of stuff that serves us the least
I see this over and over again, in a multitude of capacities: an inability to moderate the “reward”. And um, wait…. why can’t the reward be the good stuff? I mean, Orange is The New Black isn’t even ALL THAT GOOD!
What’s the problem here? (clever set up for me to answer my own questions… )
A: too often we live in reactionary states (I’ll do A because I had a bad day)
B: because of our exposure to information, we are constantly making decisions and judgments and deplete our reserves of willpower (I said I’d watch one episode, but I can handle 4)
C: as humans, we have built-in pleasure seeking tendencies (me likey when brain turn off- me read trashy magazine at grocery store)
Episodes for me, cheesecake for the Golden Girls, another necklace for Winona RYder: ESCAPE.
But from what?
From ourselves… From our own inner dialog? We’re looking to shut down the decision making process that happens every waking minute. Decision of how to respond, what to say, what to wear, what to eat, how to cope, how to parent, where to park.. Important and mundane… these choices are ongoing and when you give them too much power, when you are exposed to too much stimulus and information, they can over rule your judgement and send you down the rabbit hole.
The cumulative struggle to make the right decision ends up grinding down your willpower. This is your brain, this is your brain on drugs. Fried.
Today, I worked really hard at choosing the good, squinted to find the silver lining in the fact that our car died on the side on the road and was towed back home to a noble resting ground.
I thought I was out of the woods of what could have been an extremely shitty day. But by the time I knocked over the cracker display at the grocery store… minutes before I got into an argument with my mother (who hung up on me), I knew that I had depleted my pool of mindfulness. I threw in the towel and decided to take the easy way out until bed time.
ALL THOSE THINGS WE *DESERVE*… ? WE already have THEM: THEY ARE FOUND WITHIN THE ABILITY TO GIVE OURSELVES THE BEST.
The clothes you impulsively buy, the cookies you blindly throw in your mouth, the bottle of wine you drink after your daughter drinks bleach and doesn’t die. Whatever we look to when when we feel low… these are the false idols that keep us from our own happiness. It’s not that they are inherently bad, it’s the value we place in them that leads us down the rabbit hole.
So yes, there are hard days. And there are days when you really really wonder why. But tucked inside those days are moments when the tow truck driver tells you about his dream of raising horses and his community charity drive for families in need. Or when you decided to laugh instead of cry over the destroyed cracker box display while the stranger next to you leans in to help and gently says ‘We’ve all had days like this’.
Yes we have.