Being Good To You
I just got off the phone with a friend who was compulsively engaging in an unhealthy behavior, and feeling terrible about himself. As we talked he kept harping on his failures and shortcomings – beating himself up for his lack of control.
I offered him the perspective that while its good to take a look at the negative effects his behaviors are having in his life, it’s also important that he be nice to himself. Not by engaging in the unhealthy behavior, but in healthy ways.
Addictive behavior is usually triggered by anxiety, and being hard on yourself all the time does anything but relieve anxiety. I know because I fight the urge to beat myself up all day long. Some days I win, some days I lose.
A couple times a week, try doing something small that you think you really don’t have time for, or that is a little frivolous and do it alone. Go out for a nice meal by yourself. Going to a movie in the middle of the day, just for the hell of it. Get an ice cream cone. It doesn’t even have to cost money. I rented an electric bike one day when I was having a stressful week on the road doing stand-up and it was amazing. The battery even crapped out and I didn’t care.
A great way to be nice to yourself is to go just sit in a park and relax. Don’t do anything. Just observe everything and everyone around you. It’s amazing what we miss in our obsession to “get ahead”. Lose yourself in the present moment. You’ll be amazed what details you’ve never noticed. You might feel a nice, relaxed feeling for a moment or two, or if you’re lucky, longer. That is who we are. Not what we own or what we do.
I didn’t realize any of this stuff on my own. I read it in a book called “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. It’s an amazing book that I read every morning. Why every morning? I’m tempted to say “Because I’m an idiot”, but that would be just too perfectly ironic to end this piece. The truth is I need it. I need to start every day with kindness and calmness not only towards the world, but towards myself.
If somebody had told me ten years ago that I would be posting stuff like this publicly I would have asked to have them put me out of my misery, but I’m not embarrassed today that this is who I am and what I need and it feels pretty fucking good.
We “do” all day long. Our culture is so geared not only to doing and owning, but to making us feel like we’re not doing and owning enough. And it’s bullshit. We forget that the real person inside us isn’t what we do or what we own. It can’t be found by thinking about the past or the future. It can only be found by just being in the present moment, wherever we are, being kind to others and especially to ourselves.