Maybe I Can't Do It
There are areas of my life I’ve always struggled to respond to appropriately and instead have been constant disappointments throughout my entire life. As I’m thinking back, I’m worried that maybe I’m just being too hard on myself. I can’t be perfect. At the same time, though, I don’t know why I keep falling back to old habits when I know full well the effects they’ll have on my mood and my health. It’s this constant struggle between mind over matter, and sometimes my mind wins. It’s those times when it loses that gets to me.
I’m impulsive. I know this about myself. I do things without thinking through them first. Scratch that, I do think about them but the thought mostly consists of me convincing myself that that specific impulse is okay to follow through on. I should do this because I should. That’s it. That’s my thought process. I should do it because I should, because I thought of it, and that thought pleased me. Like really, man? If I thought about punching someone, would I be able to stop myself from actually doing it? Sometimes I don’t know. I need to find a way to control my impulses. Mind over matter.
I’m being intentionally vague because the specific act that drove me down this road is insignificant in the grander scale of things. This is just who I am and what I have to deal with with everything, not just this one specific thing that happened today. There’s something to be said about following my gut, and there have been times where following my gut has resulted in great things. It’s having the knowledge and intelligence to differentiate between the two, and that’s something I’m struggling with. I’m afraid I’m going to do something (else) that I’ll regret for a long time.
There’s something I’m doing right now that has helped me through my journey these past 105 days, and it’s something I’ve employed on and off for the past 5 years. That’s keeping track of my habits or things I want to keep track of on a calendar. It comes from Jerry Seinfeld and it’s called Don’t Break the Chain. The principle is simple: for every day you accomplish whatever habit or task you wanted to do, mark it on the calendar. As the days go by, the chain will hopefully grow longer, and the longer it goes, the more you don’t want to break the chain. I’ve been doing this for 7 habits. They range from writing, reading, eating right, and working out. But I also have a streak going for the last time I spoke to her and the last time I had a drink. These streaks are both thrilling and terrifying. The longer the streaks go, the more I want to see that chain grow. But the longer I go, the harder it is to sustain the length of these chains without breaking myself.
I’m haunted sometimes by my past disappointments. I want to live better, but I have no guideposts to guide me toward whatever that means. Should I be so hard on myself? Judging by my past, the answer is yes. I should be because my journey is fragile, and one false turn can be disastrous. I’ve been there; I’ve seen it happen. I’m scared it’ll happen again, and I don’t know what to do about it. The enormity of what I’m trying to do is weighing on my shoulders, and I want to keep going, to keep moving my feet, but the farther I go, the heavier that weight gets. And when I do something stupid, that weight seems to double, and I’m burdened even more.
I don’t know what to do, and it sucks, and it scares me, and I don’t know if I can do it.