If things are not working in your life, if things are too stressful, too anxiety-producing, too overwhelming, you might need to make a change. When life is out of balance, get curious about what’s going on. Get curious about why you are choosing the unhealthy option when your head and heart are both saying,”This is not a great idea.”
When We Take Action Against Our Own Best Interest
Self-sabotage is a common human trait. I know when I’m not doing well that I will often choose things that are not good for me. Ice cream, for example, is always an option, but when I start grabbing pints of Ben and Jerry’s at the grocery store each week, I know I’m using the ice cream to meet some unmet needs. If I can pull apart the various elements in my life that are unsatisfying, I might be able to identify the parts of my life that are causing me to act in ways that do not serve my best interest. If I get fat from eating a lot of ice cream my opportunities for a fit and healthy partner are going to: a: increase; or b: decrease; or c: who the fk cares!
Often, for me, it’s the “who the fk cares” mode that gets me into bad habits. When I am acting out, I am out of balance with some essential part of my life. In the past, this MISS has often been my longing for a romantic relationship. But many things can push me into unhealthy behaviors. Laziness. Sadness about something from my past. Even over-enthusiasm can cause me to be destructive in my manic-like state of joy. The results are the same.
When You Act Against Yourself, You’re the One Getting Hurt
I have a lot of “who the fk cares” in me. I have resentments about the divorce, about my financial situation, and even about my “healthy but heavy” weight. In an odd way, I can even be resentful that my hair, at 56, is more gray than brown. We can find a ton of ways to be pissed off at the world. If only…
But, the way out of self-destructive behaviors is to understand them first, then make the changes you want to make towards building a happier and healthier life. That’s what I’m learning these days.
What am I sad about? How am I acting out to aggravate or alleviate the sadness? How does drinking a Frappuccino every day give me relief from my sadness? (Let’s see sugar, caffeine, and caramel/coffee flavors, with whipped cream, please.) AND… This is not the way out of my unhappiness. This is a path towards future sadness.
Getting Curious About Self-destructive Behaviors
What is driving my desire for this coffee drink right now? What sadness am I feeling? Am I lonely? Bored? Horny? Am I just looking for that next level of energy and excitement, and it’s a Friday morning, and I’m not feeling it. Maybe this cup of sugar fuel will do the trick!
Wait. Let’s get curious…
What am I sad/mad about at this moment? Not much.
Am I bored? Not really, I’m writing and listening to music.
Am I looking for a high? Ah, yes, that’s it. I’m happy. It’s Friday and I have some fun planned for this evening and over the weekend, so what’s my quest in seeking out a happy drink? MORE JOY! GIVE ME EVERYTHING NOW!
Okay, so let’s look at what’s behind that impulse to the shoot-for-the moon even when things are going fine.
- I am stuck between jobs/roles in my life.
- I’ve been doing digital marketing for 20+ years.
- I’ve been writing this blog for 7 years.
- I’ve been doing life coaching for two years.
- I’m ready to go next-level on this “single dad” thing.
- Steady progress is good but not very exhilarating.
Somehow, even on this lovely Friday morning, when everything is going my way, I WANT MORE.
When My Needs Are Not Getting Met
I want to drive fast, I want to be on the silver screen, I want to be on-stage at Lalapalooza. I want my books to sell, and the Today Show episode they filmed to be broadcast. I want to blow up my current, happy, stable world for something more carnival-like. I want to date Ali MacGraw in 1972’s The Getaway. I want to be Steve McQueen. I was 10-years-old when this movie came out. I’ve wanted to be a movie star ever since.
Except, wait. Do I really want to be a rockstar? Am I interested in losing my privacy and putting my life up for display? Oh, wait… Um… (blushes)
Okay, so I’m going to come out with it. I’m working hard to develop a TV Pilot for a show. I’m about to launch my podcast, Love on the Air. And I’m waiting for the edits from my third book, A Good Dad’s Journey Through Divorce. I do seek attention in a big way. Is it because I’m hollow or hurt inside? Perhaps in the past this was the motivation. But looking at my young crush on the right, I know in my heart I just want to be loved.
Even When My Needs Are Being Met
I want more.
It’s this excessive impulse that can get me in trouble. If I’m always striving for more, I might be missing what’s right here, right now. At the moment, I am as content and happy as I’ve ever been. My needs are being met. I just want more. I want the rollercoaster. I want to flirt with danger, with mania. (Okay, that last one is a stretch.)
My needs are being met. My aspirations are still being tickled. My budget is threatening to push me back behind a desk while I write, coach, blog, share, meetup, until I reach what?
Fame? I don’t think so.
Financial independence for me? Yes.
Financial independence for me AND my loved ones? That’s next-level shit right there. But that’s what I’m after. And this morning I can say, “Fk you Salted Caramel Frapp, I’m going a different way today. But, thank you for the reminder.”
We Don’t Have to Change It All Right Now
We may not be able to do a hard left turn and stop some obsessive or destructive behavior just by declaring our new healthy path. BUT, we can get curious every time we find we’re leaning towards the Frappucinos in our life.
What am I feeling right now? I want a sweet, but I’m probably just hungry or tired. Today, I’m just ambitious. I’m in love. I’m playing a lot of tennis. And I’m doing exactly what I want today. And I still want that rocket fuel, so I can achieve escape velocity. Today, I have it all. Well, I don’t have Ali MacGraw. But, I do have her memory and the motivation that drove me as a 10-year-old boy still drives me today.
I want to be loved.
Today, I am. And today, I’m loving myself and my ambitions, and I’m still not going for the Frapp.
More articles from The Whole Parent:
- Aspirational Divorce: Seeking a Better Life for You and Your Kids
- Healing My Divorce Resentment: A Single Dad Contemplates the Future
- Dad’s Divorce Journey: 9-years Later I Still Feel the Loss of Kid-time
- Fool In The Rain: A Brief Retelling of My Divorce and Rebirth
- Loss, Sadness, and Indifference: Struggles of a Single Dad
- Missplaning Divorce: How Women Benefit In an Imbalanced Divorce
- My Single Parent Slogan: Every Day At a Time
- How Did I Miss So Much In My Marriage? Divorced, I Now Understand.