Thursday, May 6, 2010

Quiting Somthing Is The Hardest Thing

There are resolutions to change of all sorts, but the ones to DO something are far the easiest. If you are going to read more books or eat better, you get a thousand chances a day to put that into motion. Stop for a few minutes before heading off to work to read a chapter, read a little more before dinner and a little more before bedtime. Add some carrots to your lunchtime meal of a sandwich. Park father away and walk more. Clean a closet or a corner of a room and you are on the way to success. Take the steps. Do, do, do, take action, and so it is easy to score on the "do something" resolutions.
But giving something up is an entirely different matter. If you are going to stop eating salty things or stop drinking caffeinated beverages or quit smoking or give up a drug or cease a gambling habit or stop watching television or end your nail biting, you have a thousand thousand times a day to get it wrong. Even if you forego the morning coffee for a nice orange juice, the pot is still brewing when you get to work and even if you refuse to give in then, there are the multiple offers by the waiter at lunch and the drive past a half dozen Starbucks and Caribou's on the way to everywhere and the coffeemaker on the counter top when you get home. If you manage to get into the shower without that first cigarette, there is the drive to work and those poor souls smoking by the back door that would be glad to share one with you for the sake of your company and each time one of your friends takes a break and invites you along and the after lunch smoke you have to resist and at some point, you are sitting at your desk and every minute is one more minute you have to say no to getting up and going out for a smoke.
If you do that one in a thousand chances at the good thing, you have succeeded in your positive "do something" resolution, but you have to say no a thousand times each day to succeed in your "stop something" resolution and one of one thousand where you give in counts as failure for that day.
Making a "do something" change is a walk in the park compared to making a "quit something" change. And after a few days, the new "doing" starts to kick in as habit, but if you crave the thing you are quitting 10 fewer times each day, it is a hundred days before you have a single crave free day and even then, there are countless triggers in the world to pull you back.
The force of habit is an easy thing to make and a terrible hard long long road to break.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

This Isn't About You Unless You Think It Is

It was in high school. We were on a bus, probably a "pep bus" waiting to leave for a basketball or football "away" game somewhere. Some of us were horsing around and joking back and forth and she turned back in her seat to face me and said "Oh, Karma, you are soooo dramatic." And with that statement, she shut me down. I flushed red with embarrassment and shrunk down in my seat, the joke forgotten and all joy taken out of the moment. Others were uncomfortable, some annoyed at the both of us for wrecking their fun and some just at her for being so mean, but that was no consolation to me.

Ever after, I was careful to "keep it in line", moderate the drama, when she was around, or even when any of her friends who might talk were around. I was stifled, inhibited, leashed, under her steely nasty sarcastic patronising control. I hated it. I hated her. I see her photo now and then or come across an article about her, at least I used to, she seems to have faded into obscurity lately, and every time, I felt the shame, the embarrassment, the sharp sting of the put down.
What was it? Was I getting more attention than she was or was I just too over the top and it irritated her calmer demeanor? Was I really offensive in some way? It does not matter. It is not right, and certainly not kind to shut someone down like that.
So don't you do that to me. Don't ask me to be less than I am. Don't tell me to keep it down, don't tell me to relax or calm down. If I want to be over the top happy and joyful, you can either join in my delight or shut up and let me be. If I am sad and carrying on, don't dismiss me and tell me I am over reacting. You don't know how much it hurts me because you can't feel what I feel, so don't tell me it is not as bad as I am making it. Maybe it is a terrible big deal to me. Support me and care about me but don't put me down. If you can't be there with me and share the drama, the ups and down, then get away. Don't tell me to be less, feel less, express less, love less, care less, feel less joy and less sorrow. Don't make me be less of the whole me just to suit your comfortable blandness and social decorum of calm and polite. Let me be all of me or get out of my way.