Last week was not a great week for me. I'll spare you the gory details, but it just seemed like the planets were out of alignment and nothing was going quite right.
Friday came along and I thought, as many people do, "thank God!" I browsed what was available on Netflix and Redbox, but not before heading over to Whole Foods to buy a bottle of wine. I thought, "I'm totally going to enjoy a glass (or two) of wine tonight…I deserve it!"
How many of you can relate to that? And while your choice may not be wine, it may be something like a burger, pizza, ice cream, or some other food or activity that makes you feel good temporarily, but makes you feel crappy in the long run.
Why is it when we say we deserve something, we always go for the worst choice? No one ever seems to say, "I've had a crappy week, so I deserve a really tough workout, broccoli, and nine hours of sleep?" OK, perhaps a tiny fraction of the population thinks this way, but most of us don't.
Even seemingly healthy things, like getting a massage when you've had a rough week, is relative depending on the budget of each individual. For me, I would be financially sabotaging myself if I spent money on a massage right now. That's just MY reality.
So in general, we tend to make bad choices when we are down in the dumps. How do we combat that?
One of the reasons I was having a bad week had to do with a difficult client. Since this is a bread and butter client, I'm sort of "stuck" until I can get to a place financially where I can drop this client from my roster. This involves saving a lot of money. So when I go to buy something (that is not in the spending plan) I think, "I can either buy this and satisfy an immediate need, or I can delay my gratification because saving this money would mean one less day working with someone I don't enjoy.
Visualize How You Want to Feel
We've had some crazy heat in LA lately, and most of us living on the westside of LA do not have air conditioning. Needless to say, I was craving something cold…like ice cream or a frothy beer. If I don't think much about it, I'll go buy that thing, but if I sit for just a second and really visualize how I want to feel in my body, I would realize that beer and ice cream is just going to make me feel more bloated.
We are a society of instant gratification. It really doesn't feel like that long ago where I had to walk to a specific building in college to use a DOS-based computer, or waiting several days (in anticipation) for my roll of film to be developed. Now if my internet isn't moving at lightning speed all the time I have a cow. I imagine you probably do to.
We are blessed in this country and these times to have everything at our fingertips pretty much all the time. So when we get the impulse to buy because we deserve something, it's like a twitch we can't break. But if we just take a second to pause, breathe, and let the feeling settle a bit, often the urge to do something not so healthy subsides.
Find Out What You Really Need
We often indulge in things that aren't great for us because we are trying to fill some kind of need or void. And that need probably won't really be met with bad behavior or non-healthy food. After you take that moment to pause, ask yourself what it is you really need that you aren't getting. Perhaps there is a resolution to the problem that doesn't involve an entire pint of Ben & Jerry's.
I admit, I'm far from perfect when it comes to following these rules to a T. I swear when I write articles half the time I'm giving advice to myself. But I do think it's true that we can do our best to combat unhealthy impulses when we think we deservce something.
And hey, if we really do deserve something, don't you think we owe it to ourselves to make sure that what we indulge in is healthy, smart, and helping us build better habits?