5 Self-Destructive Habits to Leave Behind in 2018….From The Fix…
By Rebecca Rush
The idea that you can only enjoy your life once you’ve become a person worthy of enjoying it is a lie and it needs to be smashed. You have value simply because you exist. Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash
New Year, New You? How about New Year, Real You? I do not think Life is about becoming some other person, as society would have you believe. I think Life is about shedding the things that are not you, about remembering who you truly are, about becoming who you already are and bringing into this reality who you were meant to be.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the false refuge of maladaptive beliefs and behaviors — everybody is doing it. As the year prepares to turn over, there is a symbolic and energetic push for a fresh start.
If your goals for the new year involve getting your whites whiter, finding a partner, and ditching sugar for good!, stop reading now.
But perhaps this is the year you strive for internal rearrangement. Maybe you will find that when you put that first, the rest sort of falls into place. Even your butt.
1. Scarcity Mindset
When you’re in scarcity mindset you feel like there isn’t enough of anything, yet you’re also unwilling to get out of your comfort zone to look for more opportunities. Scarcity turns everyone else into our enemies, as we perceive they are taking from a finite pool of resources and therefore anything that they have means there is less available to us. The saddest of scarcity mindsets revolve around love. Love begets more love, but sometimes we feel that any love being directed at something else is love being taken away from us. If you’ve ever wondered how someone can be jealous of a little puppy, the answer is scarcity mindset. This is prevalent in my field, stand-up comedy, as there are only so many clubs and so many weekends a year in which to get booked. But what if people in comedy focused on lifting each other up? Wouldn’t comedy as a whole get better? And if that happened, wouldn’t there be more comedy fans and more demand? And then more clubs and more spots?
This is when we run away without leaving the room. First, we separate the details of an event from our awareness; it can be as simple as ignoring red flags on a first date. We can dissociate the meaning of something to make excuses for it — that way we don’t have to take responsibility or act based on what is actually happening. He jumped out of the cab and left me to pay for it because….I paid for things earlier in the night and he didn’t want to be emasculated by watching me pay again…Uhhhh. Maybe he’s just a dick?
When you’re dissociating, you’re spaced out, you’re numb. I remember thinking I had a superpower in my early 20’s when I learned I could dissociate in the dentist’s chair and not need Novocain. This magic gift was just a side effect of child abuse. You’re thinking: this shouldn’t be happening right now, and then you leave. You are there, but you aren’t. We use our phones to leave the present all the time. But we came to this earth at this time for a reason — to be here. You can stop dissociating by grounding yourself in the present reality with your five senses. Grab a cold drink or take a hot shower. Get back in your body. It’s okay to feel your emotions; I often dissociate when I get social anxiety and then I tell myself that it’s not okay to have social anxiety and then I “fix” the unwanted emotion by fleeing it. Self-compassion helps me stay in the moment and feeling. I remember that everything belongs, even this unwanted emotion.
3. Playing Prisoner and Warden
The most common way we do this is in intimate relationships, as in the old refrain of “He/She/They won’t let me. We make others play one of these roles so we can rebel against it. It’s an externalization of a fragment of ourselves that is judging the behavior that we are seemingly trying to get over on our designated warden. For example, once I relapsed (LOL ONCE) at a birthday party at a bar full of my peers. I spotted someone there who was in recovery. They were not my sponsor or even my friend, and deep down, I knew my recovery and relapse had absolutely nothing to do with them. But I hid from them all night long; I even triangulated, telling other people I couldn’t have them see me drink! I actually hid the can behind my back when I talked to them, though it was all for naught when I drunkenly tripped and fell flat on my face a few minutes later. Here’s the thing: they didn’t know or care. I used this person to deflect responsibility for myself, to shame myself, and to rebel against myself.
4. Explaining Yourself
I always felt I needed to explain my existence, and could give you a detailed history that led me to such a place, but the irony! Explaining yourself is goddamn exhausting for everyone. I actively work to not do this by asking myself what people truly need to know during interactions. It’s always less than my original impulse. When I was in college I was such an extreme over-explainer that I felt like every time I ran into someone, I had to tell them everything that had happened since we last spoke. I never had time to see what was going on with them, and that is how I went through life, just assuming others were better than me and together and I needed everyone to understand how hard it was for me and you would, maybe you would, if you’d only let me explain. Every time I don’t explain myself or make excuses for my actions and existence I call a tiny bit of my power back. I become a bit more self-contained, a bit more confident. I feel like a grown-up in the very best way.
5. Waiting to Enjoy It
The idea that you can only enjoy your life once you’ve become a person worthy of enjoying it is a lie and it needs to be smashed. You have value simply because you exist. You are here, and that is the only requirement for being worth enjoying life. If you swear you’ll allow yourself to enjoy being alive once you attain a certain external achievement — no matter what it is — you’ll be disappointed when you attain it. There is nothing that can fill the void of feeling unworthy, except, perhaps, deciding to enjoy your life and yourself as they are. The great paradox is that it’s only when you get there that you can truly effect lasting change. We are all in such a rush to get nowhere. The end of the road is just another road. There is no arriving, and there is always a state of arrival. A palm tree against a darkening sky, a joke landing perfectly, your dog snuggling into you in the night. There isn’t much more to life than that, and if you’re really inhabiting your life, you don’t need there to be. Enjoy it. What are you waiting for? There’s a caveat though: it’s impossible to enjoy your life and control your life at the same time. Good luck. Oh, also, sometimes I say you when I mean I.
As you can see, these maladaptive behavioral traits overlap as they all transform dysfunction into a grand discord of an unfulfilled life.
When I first met recovery I couldn’t admit anything I did wrong. I was so afraid to look at myself, terrified of what I might find. I found that when I was able to admit mistakes and faults that people actually responded better to me than when I was pretending that I was perfect. I was never fooling anyone. That was the beginning of learning to own my shit, but in order to own my shit, I had to look at my shit too. I may not have created the problem, but it is my responsibility to solve it. I know what I want. Sometimes I don’t think I can have it, or I am looking for permission. Actually I am always looking for permission, so if you’re like me, consider this your permission slip. You have permission to go after the things you truly want. Yes, even you. Yes, even that.
We’ve all got more work to do on ourselves than we hope, but it’s not as insurmountable as we fear. I promise you that. Here’s to more freedom through discipline, deeper connection through owning our imperfections, attracting more abundance by believing there’s enough for everyone, and all the other paradoxes that make life worth living. May this list serve to remind you and validate what your inner being knows already. Happy New Year!
Now, go be you. You’re doing a great job.