Thursday, October 25, 2007

What does it take?

Some people have self-control, others have none. Some have control in one area of their lives, while others have it in another. Why? Why are some people able to learn this skill and others not?

I have an Internet friend, a guy who's blog I read regularly. He's an alcoholic and schizophrenic. He's desperately trying to get his life together, but his medication for his schizophrenia makes that really difficult to do. He's been attending AA meetings for a few months now, and is mostly on the wagon, but almost every day he talks about how much he's been thinking about going and getting drunk, and some days he does. His marriage has been destroyed by his problems, and the only friends he seems to be able to keep are the homeless drunks and other outcasts in his little town. Yet, he perseveres.

Almost every time he wants a drink, he manages to talk himself out of it. Almost every time he needs a drink, he manages to find a way to stop from taking that step. He has self-discipline to a degree that I could only wish for.

I've been trying to get started on a diet and exercise programme for months now. Having hurt my knee about a fortnight ago, the little bit of walking I was doing has gone out of the window. I keep looking at my Rollerblades and thinking about how much I'd like to get back to learning to use them (especially now that we have a nice, smooth driveway for me to practice on!), but it will have to wait till my knee is better. We don't have money, or I'd join a gym. And our pool is still WAY to cold to swim in - although summer is on the way, it's going to take a week of some seriously hot weather before it heats up sufficiently.

So that leaves me with trying to reduce my calorie intake by cutting out junk - biscuits, sweets, icecream, puddings, cakes, chocolate. But I simply can't. I just don't have the willpower to say 'no'. Even as I'm reaching for the biscuit, I'm telling myself that eating that biscuit is really not a good idea, and then I reply to myself that, frankly, I don't give a hoot. I WANT that biscuit. I MUST HAVE that biscuit. So I eat it, and then for good measure I have to eat a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, or sometimes even the entire packet. One is simply not enough.

I know this is a habit I had before we left for the UK, but then my metabolism was high enough that it didn't matter. Since living in cold London, I got the Heathrow jab. Having 2 kids so close together means that I never lost the weight I put on with Janel before I was putting on more weight with Zoe. As a result, I guess I'm easily 10kg overweight now, if not 15kg.

Giving up smoking is not a matter of being convinced that it's the right thing to do, and then stopping. If it were, then giving up would be easy. For me, dieting is the same. I KNOW that it's the right thing to do - to eat healthily and sensibly, to stop gorging on rubbish, to eat more fish and vegetables... but that's not enough for me. I simply don't have the self-discipline.

And not having the stuff in the house is not an option either. I simply eat more at school (because there are usually people around with stuff that they're offering to me) or I binge over the weekends when we visit friends and family.

I feel the same way about my relationship with God. I was emailing some friends the other night with an update on our lives when I realised that I hadn't mentioned God once during the emails. He simply did not get a mention. That's because I don't have the self-discipline to be a faithful follower. It's not that I don't have time, because if it was a priority I would make time (after all, I make time to blog!). And it's not that I don't want to, because in my heart of hearts, I miss God. It's simply that I'm sulking and don't have the self-discipline to pull myself out of it.

When Graeme and I had some counselling a while back (we start another lot of that tomorrow) our counsellor mentioned that being in a downward spiral draws us further down passively, and as long as we sit and do nothing about it, we will continue down the spiral. If we want to get out of it, then we have to be active. When you're depressed you feel tired all the time, so you feel like you have no energy to fight being depressed - no energy to do anything that might make you feel better. As time goes by you feel more depressed because you're not doing anything to help yourself feel better, so you feel even more tired. Etc.

I'm there. In that downward spiral. I'm too tired to do school work in the evenings any more, even though I need to. I'm too tired to prepare my lessons properly anymore during the day (I spend the time fart-assing around instead). I'm too tired to spend quality time with Nellie - I'd rather be sitting in front of the TV or the computer, vegging. I'm too tired to look after the house, but not doing so means I feel overwhelmed by the mess when I look around. I'm too tired to spend time talking to Graeme. I'm too tired to make love. I'm too tired to follow up the business stuff I need to. I'm too tired to spend time with God, or pray. I'm too tired to exercise. I'm too tired to fight my food cravings. I'm too tired to do all the things I know I should. I'm just too tired.

But doing none of those things means I only wind up feeling more overwhelmed, more tired, more useless, more pathetic. So really, I need to have the discipline to get up off my butt and DO something, be proactive.

And I know that some of you will say that this is just the stress of the recent months catching up with me. That may well be true, and I may well need a proper holiday, but I think that's only a small portion of it. I think the majority of the reason behind all this is simply that I'm a lazy slob who lacks the self-discipline to do what's right - for myself, for my family.

And there-in lies the rub. How do I teach myself, at this 'ripe old age', to become more self-disciplined? Can an old dog learn new tricks? And how do I go from just wanting to, or just knowing that it's the right thing to do, to actually having what it takes to start this life change and see it through to completion?
Post a Comment