So, I did the challenge, but failed at doing regular updates. Whoops. In any case, here’s what went down:
- I had coke twice – once on day 5 which I posted about, and another time I accidentally ordered a coke with a takeaway. I went a few days before drinking it, and found it crazy sweet.
- I was extremely busy during April, and ended up eating out a lot for lunch, and – well, this is probably where things went wrong. I still craved a carbonated drink, or some kind of sugary drink, so oftentimes I’d buy flavoured water and stuff. It’s not terrible, but I wasn’t exactly trying to prioritise water instead.
- I definitely ate worse overall, mitigating any impact of the soda stuff.
- I’ve had a few since the challenge ended but not really enjoyed it. Part of that is because I’ve had a really bad cold this week.
As you can see, it’s a little dubious whether I can say I succeeded or not. I stuck within my rules that I set out, but I’m not sure how I did within the ‘spirit’ of the challenge.
And that’s fine! It’s been pointed out to me that going cold turkey like this isn’t sustainable for habit building and honestly, I agree. I don’t expect long term change to come from these challenges.
Instead, I like doing these month long challenges to understand myself a bit better. If I’ve got into a habit and I want to change it, which parts do I find easy or hard to change? What things trigger the habit, such as going out to lunch? What helps me stop?
Doing this for a month, you start to notice what excuses you’re likely to make, what mental gymnastics you do to get something. I clearly did a lot of them this month because what I really wanted was the carbonation – so I can think of ways around that. In short, it brings a particular area of my life into focus and I can troubleshoot habit building around those compulsions and/or addictions.
In any case, I just think it’s fun to change stuff up sometimes 🙂
I don’t have any challenge plans for May so next one will probably be June
So… I accidentally drank a glass of coke yesterday without even thinking!!
It was hilariously automatic. I went for lunch with my colleague in the middle of some research in a shopping mall, and only halfway through did I remember. It’s mostly because I don’t eat at restaurants very frequently, so I remembered all my usual triggers but not that one. D’oh.
Oh well. I can’t undo it, so I’ll just have to carry on and remember to get water in future 🙂 …
(I’m a little late to the party in writing this — but better late than never!)
Steven Universe is and has been one of my favourite shows for several years now. I’ve shared it with partners, friends and family. People who are still in my life and some who aren’t. I binged my way through the first thirty episodes or so, rambling to the friend who convinced me to watch it in the first place. I cried through Here Comes a Thought (a song about mindfulness) onto my ex-girlfriend’s lap, and I cried showing my mum the episode. I still choke up hearing the song now.
Watching the SU season 5 finale – without going too deep into spoilers – was incredibly satisfying. Ultimately the show really is about loving yourself, flaws and all. That’s how I feel about the show itself too: for all its faults and the hiatuses I’ve stuck through, I always deeply appreciate how SU isn’t afraid to shy away from exploring deep topics like that. I’ve grown with this show’s characters, and like Steven come to know myself and love myself far more than I used to.
So naturally I cried and gasped through most of the episode. Only after did it occur to me that it was the most I’d reacted to anything in a while. Odd moments of ‘real emotion’ like that creep on me: in things like Steven Universe, playing with an animal; taking a good walk; cooking a nice meal; or hearing the opening overture to a musical. They’re not always happy, but they’re real and vivid.
I’m realising that I often shame myself for not feeling enough when ‘big’ things happen. Or, I’m constantly hoping that finding the big things will make me happy – a better job, better relationships, more money, someone needs to do this. Or I say shouldn’t be so emotional about something like a cartoon. That’s ‘weird’ or ‘creepy’. It’s for kids for God’s sake. I’m either angry I’m not feeling or angry I’m feeling too much.
But again the little moments are the ones that feel most special. And they’re far more accessible and under my control. I can enjoy a piece of music, a cartoon or food right now; I can’t magic up a new job or win the lottery every day.
SU is a phenomenal cartoon but in the end it is ‘just a show’, which really touched me at my core. And frankly I want more ‘just a show’ moments like that in my life.
LBR. I’m a self improvement junkie.
There’s honestly a lot to be said for getting too invested in self-improvement; it can become a compulsion, something to strive for that feels good but at its heart is simply about thinking of yourself as deficient somehow. From when I was sixteen I was obsessed with productivity blogs and books such as Getting Things Done, 7 Habits, etc etc.
These days, I’m sure my desire to find the “perfect” productivity method was an attempt too control anxiety about my grades or whether I was good enough in my academic work (I’ve written about it more here). It was never enough.
Regardless, in small, careful doses it can certainly be useful. I try not to engage in this as a compulsion, i.e. when I’m feeling sad or worthless, or as a distraction from some feeling or activity. I use them to help me live by my values, to strengthen my boundaries, and learn about how to care for myself better. Gratifyingly, this has become a lot easier as the content I consume is generally based in mindfulness and values based living.
Anyway, without further ado, here is a small handful of the resources and blogs I’ve found the most helpful over the past few years. I’ll be updating this as I go along, so do check back.
Dear Rat Brain,
Here’s a (terrible) picture of you that I drew during lunch at work, where I know you like to go a bit mental.
It’s only been a little over a week now so it’s not entirely surprising you’d feel like you’re some kind of ignorant alien – like you have no idea what you’re doing. That’s how we operated throughout most of university after all… And secondary school…
(And primary school? Who knows).
What if I don’t belong here? What if they find out I don’t know what the hell I’m doing? What if they realise I’m mentally about five years old and whenever I do things right it’s a complete accident? What if I mess up?
Obviously, it doesn’t matter to you that you get good grades, that you come up with good ideas, or that you can explain concepts to people when they need it. It doesn’t matter that you’re on top of your work. It doesn’t matter that when stuff goes wrong you know how to fix it.
It takes longer than a week to fit into any workplace, let alone your first one. But you’re not willing to put in that time to be bad so you can eventually be good. You’re also not willing to realise that no one else knows what the hell they’re doing either; the standards you set for others are not the standards you set for yourself.
When you’re always aiming for impossible imperfection, is there any wonder you always feel like a failure?