tomfromhr.com a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies

15Feb/142

My Better Self and Mental Stability

I'm gonna preface this by saying this might sound a little weird. Even for me.

It'll surprise approximately zero of you that I spend a lot of time in my own head. I don't read as much as I'd like to these days, but I do write a lot in my head. If I have a spare moment likely some story is being written in my head. This isn't really relevant, but it helps illustrate how my mind works, which is kind of in a creative, constantly writing sort of way. 

In my head I have this little voice that constantly, constantly puts myself down. Any moment that there's anything anyone could judge me on, that voice has it covered. In some twisted way it's me trying to protect myself. No one can ever say anything about me that I haven't said to myself. I think it's supposed to prepare me for criticism or something, but it ends up only making it feel worse when someone actually does criticize me. I want to say "Why are you piling on?!" because that's what it feels like.

So I've wanted to try and silence that voice as much as possible. It serves no purpose.

So what I've been doing is envisioning my better self. 

See, what that little voice likes to do is replay all the times I've felt bad about myself. When my boss berated me. When a customer chew me out. Things exes have said. Anything and everything, it will pull and throw at me. 

What I do now is I envision a better version of myself literally stepping into the situation and just saying, no. It's me as I've always wanted to be, a little taller, slender, confident. Course, also with magical time stopping powers. Minor details changed. And the Better Self will simply snap his fingers, say "Hey, this isn't the most helpful, eh? Let's go to that nice spot in Vegas where you had a cocktail with Klutzy." Or pull me somewhere else more helpful.

It may sound like an odd technique. But it's working nicely so far. I feel like I'm confronting a lot lately, mentally, and this is helping. And I wanted to share it, in case it might help you.

Now, I'm at an airport. Time to find more wine.

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4Feb/140

Focus and Discipline

The running theme of my life could largely be described as one of desires. That’s a bit broad, and maybe unfair, but, the opening line is supposed to be a little overdramatic, I’ve always thought.

Throughout my life I’ve always had trouble resisting things. When I’m in the kitchen, and I know there are cookies or cake, it will feel like something is PULLING me to them. The same will be true, often, of purchases. If I’m in the mall, and I know there’s a fancy new Apple device, or some new gadget that will definitely help me accomplish all my life goals, or a lululemon thing I’ve had my eye on that I’m sure I’ll fit into in a few weeks when I lose weight, it feels like an honest to God PULL. Walking by, walking away is painful. Denying myself feels so WRONG. But we’ll get back to denial later.

I do feel that a lot of my life has been shaped by these impulses. I suppose that’s probably not as novel as I might think, but it feels so to me. People will give me tips on how to lose weight, or save money (and really the basic problems for me are one and the same) and I always kind of end up saying “I know, I know.” Because I do. I know I could reduce my weight by simply counting calories and making healthier choices. I know what the healthy choices are. I just choose not to make them. But it feels like less of a choice. It feels like there’s a pull, a kind of powerful force drawing me to them. Denying myself the fast food, or the cookie or what have you feels so very wrong.

I’ve been practicing that denial lately, both in finances and in food. I have been trying to eat less in general, not just make different choices, and it does feel very difficult. It’s wrong in a whole other way, to me. It feels like denial. Like I’m starving myself or doing something unnatural. Yes, unnatural is really the word. Making the healthy choice of x food instead of y food isn’t really an issue. It’s driving by the fast food place when I’ve had a rough day. It’s sitting there, having finished dinner at 8pm and saying “I am finished eating for the night.” It makes me irritable. 

Yet, I know it’s something I have to work on, saying no to myself, not being bound by those choices. Sitting with that denial and being okay with it. Making frugal choices instead of easy ones. I’ve just been really struck by how hard that denial can be. But also how getting past it doesn’t seem to have any long term negative implications. I don’t explode if I don’t eat after dinner. I can surprisingly make a lot with the food I have around the house. I’ve even been trying to be more disciplined about my internet browsing, not just mindlessly clicking through reddit links. I’ve even been trying to get to bed earlier and, when in bed, get all my devices off by 10:30, not just when I’m feeling tired (which is often not until midnight or 1am).

I feel good about it, about these choices, about this discipline. Let’s hope it pays off.