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We toss these words around like a feather, letting them softly fill the air and float down upon us.
We take comfort from the soothing thoughts of nurturing our bodies, minds, and souls.
We crave the gentle feeling, basking in what it means to treat ourselves tenderly. We are elated to be given this permission to take it easy, breathe more deeply, and live more fully.
We stock up on green juice, buy a gym membership, and place a book of positive affirmations on our nightstands. We aim to rise before the sun to start the day with meditation and green tea. We schedule stretch breaks on our calendars and vow to step out into the fresh air and walk daily.
Then along with the dusk comes a certain melancholy that slowly seeps in and subtly settles within us. It may be an amalgam of sadness, despair, and emptiness, or an acute stabbing of pain and bitter loneliness.
Chamomile tea doesn’t seem appealing and yoga doesn’t feel like it will quiet the noise within our heads. We plead with ourselves, fully aware of the fact that when we push through these difficult times that challenge our commitment to positive self-care, we will be victorious and feel such a powerful sense of achievement.
“A glass of wine. That will do the trick. Just one; or maybe two. It’s been a tough day. I made a lot of positive changes. But I’m tired and want to relax. I’m angry—no, maybe sad. I don’t know.”
The cork pops. The sound of our magic elixir soothes as we slowly pour it into the glass. We plop ourselves down on the couch and turn on the music, seeking, until we find a playlist that resonates with our mood. And this is how it begins.
We hurl self-care out the door like a foul smelling bag of trash. We can’t dispose of it fast enough, quickly getting it out of our sight and out of our minds.
We need a fix. We need to feel good now. We need instant gratification.
With that, the pattern ignites once again, from self-care to self-destruction, lighting that fire within us that is sure to burn out of control. We extinguish it, but never quite put the fire out.
The embers are with us every day, waiting for that one flicker of a flame when it is given even the slightest opportunity to grow into a raging inferno.
I do believe some of us are wired in this way, and I know for a fact that I am. When I’m good, I’m exceptional, and when I’m bad, I’m really bad. I’ve achieved balance, yet catapulted in one direction or the other over and over.
Balance is short-lived, and it either gets replaced by elation, satisfaction, and joy, or disappointment, shame, and disgust—it depends on which end of the unbalanced spectrum I’ve landed.
Some call it falling off the wagon. Well, I’ve fallen off many wagons on a variety of rides, wounded, bruised, and beat-up, yet I always found myself jumping back on at some point—sometimes quickly, sometimes having to move many mountains to even find the wagon.
But the question I ask myself and others is why is it in our darkest hour—when we need self-care the most—that we self-destruct? Why do we choose to poison our bodies with toxins of all kinds, from junk food to booze and cigarettes, injuring ourselves even more?
It’s a slow form of suicide. It can demonstrate a lack of love, respect, and care for ourselves. How can we say we want to live a quality life when we are killing ourselves just a little bit more each day?
Why do we find it so hard to take positive steps in the right direction, yet we have no problem stepping into hell? Heck, we don’t step—we jump right in head first.
It’s that immediate need for gratification. We want to feel good now, despite the consequences. We want the instant high. We want to escape. We want to numb. It makes everything else go away—for a short period of time.
Yet it takes patience and time to reap the rewards of a life well-lived, making positive decisions that result in positive consequences. We plant seeds, one at a time, and we must water and care for them if we are to see anything grow. It’s hard work. And it requires tenacity, vision, and self-love.
The small steps we take each day will add up to something great, but not overnight. But if we choose self-destruction, I can guarantee that we’ll feel it the next day—hungover, ashamed, bloated, and exhausted. The more we participate in that, the longer we delay gratification and may risk never getting anywhere at all.
Here are some suggested steps to consider when you find yourself standing on the edge of self-destruction:
Envision yourself waking up the next day. How do you feel? If you choose alcohol, food, or any other substance of choice, chances are high that you’ll risk not wanting to face the next day—or yourself.
Hungover, bloated, dehydrated, and physically depleted. Take a breath and think twice.
Find something to do right now
Go for a walk, read a book, or mix yourself a seltzer and cranberry cocktail. Get busy and take your mind off of the instant fix you crave so desperately. Chances are by the time you “unbusy” yourself, whatever craving you had has passed.
Think of your body and mind as a temple
Treat them well. Feed them healthy nutrients—whole food, lots of water, and positive thoughts. Move. Exercise. Live simplistically. Remove the chaos. Don’t want more materialistically—want more for your soul.
Reflect on gratitude
How good do you feel when you wake up with a clear head and no regrets? That is something to be grateful for—that and the many things you gain when you practice self-care.