Some thoughts on a Sunday. Please forgive the fact that inevitably they are generalisations – I have to start somewhere to make sense of it.
As dieters we’re forever saying “when I get to ‘X’ goal, I shall treat myself to ‘Y’ “. I’m no psychologist, not even an amateur dabbler, but common sense tells me this came from childhood, when good behaviour was rewarded by adults. Bad behaviour was punished by withholding said treats, or something else that gave pleasure. Carrot and stick.
So when we grow up, there aren’t ‘adults’ around to tell us what to do, and at first it’s wonderful. With chins jutting out defiantly we do what we want, because there’s nobody around to tell us not to. Don’t make your bed if you don’t feel like it, don’t bath for a week, have iffy relationships, eat what you want. Maybe not all these things, but some of them. A mini-anarchy reigns, for a while.
Some people always know when to stop, so they don’t need the carrot and stick. We on the other hand sail on through the red lights, continuing to do that which our parents had tried to keep under control, and which is now – well – out of control. How do we deal with it? Where weightgain is concerned, by giving ourselves a good talking to, and promising ourselves rewards if we succeed in pulling back – in other words by acting as child and parent at the same time. Outlaw and policeman. Hunter and gamekeeper. This incompatibility sets us up to fail, and we feel wretched as a result. The infamous cycle has begun.
Take another scenario. Not all of us are lucky enough to have had happy childhoods, to live happy ever after in a good relationship, doing fulfilling things, free from significant financial penury, enjoying reasonably good health. Some have sad things happen to us when we were little, or as adults – perhaps over which we had no control. We may not say it out loud, but to ourselves, or the mirror, we’re saying “this isn’t fair, I deserve better – I deserve to be happy/be slim/live longer”.
I’ve thought long and hard about this one, because it’s painful to me, but like a gerbil on a wheel I keep coming back to the same conclusion: our unhappiness is often caused by our genes or by other people, it’s true, but it’s still random that it should have happened to us specifically. No shining light appeared in the sky and an accusing finger pointed down at us saying ‘you shall suffer’. The cruelty of our downs is random, a combination of circumstances. So it’s not that we deserve or don’t deserve anything. On the other hand, we can make our own "ups".
Again, it doesn’t take a sleuth to figure out why we think this way: society can’t tolerate unhappiness in children. I find the sight of a depressed child (as opposed to a cross one) unbearable, and my first thought is “what’s being done about this?” There are organisations and institutions set up to help – plenty of adults trying to banish young misery.
And then comes the adult variety. We grow up, we’re unhappy and …somehow… we’re waiting for someone to come and enfold us in their arms and say “this isn’t fair, you shouldn’t be unhappy – come here and I’ll make it better”. Maybe if we’re lucky somebody did – but I would guess that for most of us it didn’t. We’re on our own, we have to think of the solutions ourselves. Sometimes we do, sometimes we complain to anyone that will listen that life is unfair and we deserve better.
What I’m therefore suggesting is that we tend to react like children to these two situations –
I’m being good therefore I will give myself a reward,
I don’t deserve all that is happening to me.
Amanda has written an inspiring post today on making the best of things - here’s a flavour of it: “Enjoy what you have. Appreciate your blessings. Recognize your progress.” I think this creates the right frame of mind to make our own luck. So why not look at ourselves squarely in the mirror and take adult responsibility for our actions? Say instead –
I don’t need rewards for achieving my goals,
Bad luck is cruel, but random.
I can make my own good luck, and it won’t matter
whether I deserve it or not.
whether I deserve it or not.
A very special thank you to Sandy Lee for her Lollipop Award post of the week. It’s very special for me to have this sort of recognition. Thanks so much Sandy!
Photo Finish –
From Lonicera’s non-digital archive
A Sunday afternoon in Portishead
John tries out "El Churro", his radio-controlled boat,
on Portishead boating lake
"El Churro" in all its glory...
Cricket on the green...
...wearing a new outfit...
The view across the Severn estuary
to the steelworks at Llanwern, in Wales
Portishead is known for its wonderful sunsets