Friday, May 4, 2012

Why Do I Keep Choosing The Short-term Payoff?

It's looking like I need to rein in my petulant inner teenager.  I was really a pretty good teen at the time, no major rebellions or anything.  But now, I am finding that the force that kept me alive during the worst of my anxiety and depression is not terribly willing to be relegated to the role of passenger after having that taste of being the driver.

It seems like in almost every situation of short-term vs. long-term gain, the short-term gain is chosen even before things are really thought through.  The teenager, in league with my lizard brain, pounces on any present comfort, completely disregarding the effect of this choice on future outcomes.  For this reason, for example, I am having a terrible time working on the illustration project I've promised to do because I have to get my stuff together, find a clear place or clear a place, and print out some pictures before starting.  This is all too much for me to make myself do, apparently... so far.  Which is, of course, ridiculous.  In short, my Christmas tree ornaments are scattered all over my big desk and I have been unwilling to deal with putting them away in order to get started.  That and printing out the pictures involves my bringing my laptop downstairs and plugging it into the printer.  It sounds so ridiculous!

But, in the thick of depression and anxiety, it was this ability to seize any opportunity for rest and revitalization (i.e. NOT using them to put away Christmas ornaments) to renew myself is what kept me going.  NOW, this behavior is no longer adaptive, but, I am finding, nearly impossible to countermand.  Every weekend I swear I will clean off the desk and every weekend I don't get to it.  I must not really want to do it.  Of course I don't.  I want it DONE, but I don't want to do it.  Big surprise.

Any tips for wrangling your inner anarchist/reptile brain/rebellious teen?
It's not like I don't know how to do good time management.  I used to be excellent at it.
Friends call me for advice on how to get the stuff done they need to and I help THEM.
I just can't seem to make myself take my own medicine.  I don't want to let the grown-up me back in charge.  Then it'll be work work work all the time and no more fun.  That's what I'm hearing inside.



  1. I love you. I know you are going to think this is mean. When my dear friend Karen said these words to me I can remember thinking, "I'm glad I put my big girl pants on today." I am only passing these words on to you because I care and I want you to be more than better, I want you to be BEST.
    Got your big-girl-pants on?

    No one can help you. No counselling, no program, no drug is going to help until you get face to face with God and you decide to stop letting the hatred kill you.
    And you can insert anger/guilt/fear or whatever it is that you are letting kill you.

    I love you. God loves you. Your husband loves you. Your children love you. Are you ready to decide that you can love you, too?

  2. Yes, I was able to scrounge up my big girl panties. Ha ha. That's a saying I like to use myself. I used to have a keychain that said to put them on. :)

    Yes, fostering a relationship with (insert your preferred Higher Power) would be a good coping strategy. I believe that our ability to engage in this kind of behavior is adaptive and beneficial. So I in no way put down spirituality. I have no doubt that it is good for our mental and perhaps overall health, never mind the sociological effects.

    Since I believe in (presumably) 1 fewer god than you do, I could exercise the part of my brain that calms me and gives me that feeling of "presence" through meditation, contact with nature, etc. Some deliberate action. I should do that.

    Honestly, I would believe in some god(s) if I could, but I just don't. I've tried, gone through the motions, prayed, gone to retreats, attended church, pretended with the intent of it becoming real, read the Bible, etc. but to no avail. I just don't think there is a "ghost in the machine." The whole concept of faith, belief without proof, is not completely unpalatable for me since I believe the world could be more complicated that our brains can process, but our understanding of the world via physics is quite adequate for me without the need for a god. See my post on "The Great Cosmic Parking Lot" or Carl Sagan's /The Varieties of Scientific Experience/ for better phrased, more detailed treatment of my beliefs.

    Nevertheless, I grant you that if I were able to do what you suggest, though I'd prefer the Native American concept of a Great Spirit over Christianity, it would very probably be good for me.

    Lacking that, yes, I should spend more time being "present" with myself, nature, and the universe to benefit from "meditation" and create more space between my instantaneous reactions to things and a considered opinion of them. I do need to love myself before my love for anyone else will be complete. That is very true.

    Thank you for your concern, support, love, and kind comment. :) I wonder what else I can get done today now that I have my big girl panties on...

  3. I noticed in "Cosmic Parking Lot" you identify yourself with other's words, not your own words.

    Hating God for refusing to be your own personal genie-in-the-bottle ready to obey your command isn't the same thing as not believing.

    "I did not want my Mommy to die. I’d tried to be a good girl and give her over to Jesus like I thought I was supposed to. I’d had a dream. In the dream I had climbed a tree. As I sat, safe in the shady branches I could see out over the land below. A crowd was gathered around a man I knew must be Jesus. I should go ask him to heal my mother so she wouldn’t be sick anymore. I felt the rough bark in my hands as I swang down into the dust. I made my way through the knees of the crowd, taking advantage of my size. After a long time and a lot of effort I made it to Him. The crowd was carrying us along. I pulled on his sleeve and asked if he would heal my mother. She is sick and I know that if he will only say the word she’d be healed. I don’t ask him to come see her. I try to be like the centurion, who had secured the healing of his steward’s child by having faith that if only Jesus said it would be done, so it would be. Jesus looked me in the face. I loved him. I worshipped him. I knew he would heal her and that I’d asked the right way. He looked at me. He said, “No.” I woke up, and I wept. I had done everything right. My mom had done nothing to deserve this and Jesus wouldn't even speak the word that could heal her. He was going to let her suffer. I was devastated. I quit CCD (Sunday-school for Catholics) soon after."

    Do you really think it is just coincidence that of the 7 BILLION people in this world; I randomly chose to click on your blog and randomly chose to reach out to you because your words are so full of pain and so desperate for His love.

  4. Sorry, I only just saw that you'd responded back now! I didn't mean to blow you off.

    So, do I think it was a coincidence? Yep.

    As of today I've had 3211 US viewers. It doesn't seem implausible to me that one of them is sincere enough in their faith to recognize my pain and want to save me, considering this is the most religiously active of the "Western" nations and that it is overwhelmingly Christian.

    Honestly, if I could believe in the Judeo-Christian God, especially with the Christian idea of a personal savior who, like a super-daddy loves us as is described and declared by the faithful, I SO would! Even given the fact of such horrific things as have occurred in the world. If that were true and He were as presented, He would have a justification that would be good enough whether I understood or agreed or not. I could live with that.

    But eventually I stopped banging my head on the brick wall and put my lot in with Thomas, and this was not as a 4th grader. I held on to the last vestiges of any faith until I was, oh... something like 30. I TRIED. I went to church and spoke with clergy and nuns and went to retreats with peers and read the Bible and prayed and contemplated. If anything, maybe I'm experiencing what I believe Mother Theresa believed she was, given her absence of feeling of belief in her latter years, that she was sharing Christ's most difficult hour, the time when he questioned God in the Garden. But, really, why would someone like me get that honor. I am in no way, shape, or form worthy of mention within the same library containing the book of her life. Seriously. So I don't buy that.

    As for identifying myself with the words of others, Carl Sagan was a lot smarter than I'll ever be and I'd buy his words over mine any day. :) If you haven't read his Varieties of Scientific Experience, I think it might be a very interesting read for you (...If you don't believe it's a work of Satan, in which case I wouldn't blame you for not touching it, and I'm not mocking anyone here---when I believed in such things there were things I avoided out of fear of evil.).