Last week while camping blissfully in nature in southern NSW, I drove to Maccas and ordered a large fries and a medium fries and then ate them both in the car in a ridiculous rush. Just to see if I would let myself be so wild ???? .
By the second packet they were rapidly tasting more like cardboard than deliciousness, but I persevered anyway.
Neville had been going on and on about NEEDING chips for the past few days, and as a coeliac, my fast food options are pretty much: Maccas chips.
After years of experimentation, I’ve found that the more I restrict myself (or perceive others as restricting me), the more I resist and find myself doing the opposite.
After weeks of camping with New Secret Man over the holidays (whose name will now transition to Bloody Good Bloke – because, not new, and not secret anymore!) I had been restraining myself (sort of) when it came to eating shitty food in front of him, not because he cares AT ALL, but because I was judging myself for having put on a few comfort kilos since we met.
I was worried he’d have noticed and also be noticing me eating too much Maccas and toasted marshmallows. Which I did still eat a lot of. Only the white ones though.
So once I was away camping without him for 10 days, I let loose
to see if I could remove my made-up restrictions and bring things back into balance again.
I’ve found that if I drop the guilt and restraint and let myself indulge bad habits, it doesn’t take long for me to stop craving them and go back to a normal, less obsessive relationship where I can take it or leave it.
If I do the opposite, and guilt, restrain and berate myself as I did around Bloody Good Bloke, the unwanted behaviour ends up lurking around for much, much longer.
What you resist persists, reckons Carl Jung, and I reckon that bloke was onto something.
We tend to obsess about the things we restrict ourselves from. The moment the mind feels restricted in any area, it fixates on getting freedom.
Food, Netflix, social media, sugar, alcohol, people who we know aren’t good for us…
Self-restraint can definitely work short term – if you have high willpower.
Until it doesn’t and you swing the other way.
In Taoist philosophy (the philosophy where Chinese Medicine comes from), they talk about the “Way of the Tao” being the middle way between the two extreme swings of the pendulum – one side yang, and the other yin.
The way I see it, if you go too far one way on the restriction spectrum, eventually you’ll swing to the opposite direction as your body and mind try to balance you out.
If you can learn to release the self-created chains, and allow yourself to swing one way and then the other from time to time, without clinging or obsessing about either end of the spectrum, you’ll more often than not find yourself coming back to equilibrium. With less of those extremely unbalancing swings out to the edges.
Are there areas of your life where you’re being overly rigid and controlling with yourself?
What might happen if we stopped smacking ourselves over the head all the time about all the things?
What if we just allowed ourselves to ride the inevitable pendulum swings of being a human?
I reckon it’s worth giving it a crack.