do you change the behaviour first?
I hate it when i learn something about myself. well, i don’t HATE it, but i am like all “holy how did i never see this before” or “holy how come it took me so long to finally try to figure this out…”
i had a crap day last week (and i wrote about it, which of course makes folks either freak out that i’m about to relapse (no) or you’re surprised that i’m a real person and not pedestal-like-after-all-and-never-was).
after my crap day i got some sleep (duh). and i recovered (yeah). all day saturday i was busy with catering. the whole day. but i had an idea for a podcast so i started to record it saturday night at about 9 pm…
to say that i had an idea for a podcast is a little unfair, because i was trying to figure out WHY i can’t consistently get enough sleep, and why do i have to keep relearning this over and over, how boring i’m not even going to link to past posts on the subject of must do less, sleep more, blah blah. And so sometimes when i’m trying to work something out, i record the podcast and by the end of the audio i’ve realized something.
yeah. so that’s what happened.
so here’s the short version (even though it’s really long).
I’m a behaviourist at heart. i don’t even think i know what the word ‘behaviourist’ really means to therapist types, but to me it means: change the behaviour first, then the thinking/feelings change.
For example, you don’t want to exercise, dread it, try to figure out why you dread it, spend a lot of time planning ways to get around it. make plans, fail at plans. make other plans. fail at those.
(And in a perfectionistic way, feel that you MUST have this all sorted BEFORE you begin. You ask your friends “why don’t i exercise more when i know it’s good for me?” as if there’s an answer to that question.)
Then someone comes along and says: doesn’t matter what you weigh, doesn’t matter what you THINK about exercise. Doesn’t matter if you use the words overweight or obese or diet or exercise or not. doesn’t matter if can’t imagine exercising regularly forever. doesn’t matter if you don’t know why you don’t want to exercise. Just do this planned bootcamp thingy for 100 days and THEN then you’ll start to figure out what you feel about exercising.
You’re pretty sure that you want to feel better about over-drinking. you read books, read blogs, dread it, try to figure out why you dread it, spend a lot of time planning ways to get around it (moderation), make plans, fail at plans, make other plans.
(And in a perfectionistic way, feel that you MUST have this all sorted BEFORE you begin. You ask your friends “why don’t i stop drinking for awhile even though i know it’ll be good for me?” as if there’s an answer to that question.)
Then someone comes along and says: doesn’t matter what you THINK about quitting drinking. Doesn’t matter if you use the word alcoholic or not. doesn’t matter if you want to quit forever. doesn’t matter if you don’t know why you drink. Just stop drinking for 100 days and THEN you’ll start to figure out what you think.
It’s like we want to answers before we start. We want to know the difference between drinking alcoholically and being an alcoholic. we want to know why we self-sabotage. we want to know how long it’s going to take, and how quickly we’ll have ALL the answers.
So i recorded the podcast and right near the bloody end, i said: do the action first, stop trying to figure out why.
then I turned off the recorder. i wanted to edit the audio and upload it. Instead, i took my own advice and did the action first (sleep) and figure out why i resist sleeping later. I left the audio unedited. i went to bed.
the next day, yesterday (holy long story you’ve given up by now)… then yesterday, i relistened to the audio, posted an extract, sent it out to subscribers.
And i realized that it’s probably my perfectionist thinking that keeps me up too late. “Just one more thing. Do one more thing. Finish this thing off. Do this in the right order. Do it this way not that way.”
The same way that perfectionism probably kept me from quitting drinking for such a long while when I knew i was drinking more than i should. The perfectionist in me wanted to FIND A WAY TO KEEP DRINKING – like, not be so all or nothing about it, surely moderation should be POSSIBLE if i just find out HOW TO DO IT RIGHT.
(lots of shouty caps, sorry)
so. go to bed and figure out why you’re not getting enough sleep later. If you know you need more sleep then get some, and wrestle with the thinking later.
so. quit drinking for some medium-longish length of time (100-180 days) and then figure out later if you feel better or worse once you’re sober (duh). do you obsess less, do you sleep better, do you feel better, are you prouder of yourself.
and that you can’t imagine any of these things BEFORE you begin doesn’t mean anything. just begin. the clarity comes later.
says the behaviourist.
there’ll be some therapist out there who’ll come and correct me and say “you need to know the root cause before you can find a solution” and i’ll call bullshit. Cuz you can’t figure out drinking while you’re drinking. and i don’t think i can figure out why i’m exhausted if i’m exhausted. that stuff has happened in the past is a fact, sure. but it’s what we DO NEXT that changes things. (not what we think next; and as paul likes to remind me, we have a problem with thinking… more thinking is probably not the answer.)
what do you think? lost my mind?
[i’m also going to send this as today’s micro-email; apologies for cross-posting, I never do this]