Getting out of a rut (part.1)

-Wednesday may 24th

In the last week all I’ve done is partying, hanging out with friends, spending astronomical hours on TikTok and finished two TV shows while becoming a food machine.

I hate that.

Usually I wouldn’t be capable of saying exactly why I hated that routine, or rather I’d know it hurt but I wouldn’t manage to get out of such an abyssal pit, and doing something that felt much more virtuous and that I truly liked seemed to require an amount of energy I just couldn’t deliver. I still struggle to understand the true, subconscious, underlying reasons why in these moments I just cannot do what I would ideally do. The most obvious one for me would be the dopamine overload that TikTok and Netflix provide us with, we feel so safe with these little (or big) screens doing exactly what we expect them to do, the only task we are entrusted with is scrolling, ensuring the clear reward of forever more engaging, engrossing and intriguing content.

And here I am antagonising social media (even though sometimes they really do feel like the real villain) but isn’t it also a great tool for discovering new things ? Without TikTok I wouldn’t know about all the amazing Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean restaurants and cafes in Paris I could try out with my boyfriend, or these everyday hacks that are so useful even though they’ll probably just be lying in my “Saved” folder for decades before the right moment finally arrives to use them. Without Netflix I wouldn’t have access to other people’s imagination during these nights when watching a story unfold in front of your eyes is so calming and entertaining. And really does everything in life have to be productive ? Are we really to be robots, like ants who can spend hours building their anthill. The obvious and emotional answer to that would be no. But then how are we to sort through the addictive nature of social media to really make the most of these apps positively ? This is again a question that remains pending. Yesterday I set myself a limit of 10 videos to watch because I really wanted to go on TikTok, it more or less worked; I did kind of go overboard (I ended up watching 13 videos) but at least I didn’t spend two hours on it instead of doing something I genuinely liked.

This is really a question that has remained with me for the past months as I was trying to better myself. Usually, before that, when I would try to change my life for the better, everything needed to be perfect; I know that, as you’re reading this you probably think that’s a recipe for disaster, and you’re pretty much right. But at the time I was a teenager and had only a limited grasp on reality, making it hard to be self-conscious therefore impossible for me to know myself. I would set very unrealistic expectations like waking up at 6 or even 5AM to work out, make oatmeal (and if you’ve ever tried to make these Pinterest or Instagram worthy oatmeal bowl, you know how long it takes to make everything ready for the tasting) do my make up, I even remember that once I incorporated running in my morning routine. Most of the time I would only last about 2-3 days before going back to my old habits.

When I stumbled upon the new and flourishing self-love and self-care trend, I would use it as an excuse to constantly postpone the day I’d feel better about myself. For example if I had failed for a week to do the routine I had prepared, I would give myself a pat on the back and say “don’t be too harsh on yourself, it’s just the beginning” and go on eating a whole chocolate bar (the Milka ones, which literally taste like heaven, maybe they really do put purple cow milk in it). Now I know you’ll probably think that at first it might not sound like such a bad idea, I’m not pushing myself too hard so that I don’t fall into toxic and detrimental behaviours that will affect both my mental and physical health. But really all I was doing was masking my inability to let go off unhealthy habits under the guise of compassionate indulgence. And it’s tricky because compassionate indulgence is a real double edged sword it can either be a tool in your development or be detrimental to it. In order to progress towards your goal(s) you need that compassionate indulgence to realise that everything is a process. You need that compassionate indulgence to be patient and accept that the results will come, slowly probably, and if they fail to come that compassionate indulgence will allow you to not beat yourself up for not doing things right. It will tell you that you’re learning and you couldn’t have possibly known you made a mistake before, that you’re human and therefore don’t have a database to make you deal perfectly with every situation of life, and even if it was the case, life wouldn’t be fun even if that goes against what you might believe at the moment, since it is usual to think that life will be better for us once everything will be perfect.

Compassionate indulgence can also help when you just failed at showing up for your goal; say you’re trying to become fitter, meaning you have to be in a calorie deficit, meaning you have to eat low calorie satiating foods, but still in a way that somehow makes it tasty, so that your life doesn’t feel like crap (is it that obvious that I drew this analogy from my own life experience ?) but someday, somehow unexpectedly you see a very enticing doughnut on the table, brought by your very thoughtful aunt and you think to yourself “hmm I have been very diligent (more or less) with my diet for the past days; I deserve a reward” or “what is life without some enjoyment, I can’t just try to lose weight endlessly, I also need to enjoy life!”, or my personal favourite “eating the doughnut can be part of my diet, that way it is much more sustainable” (I personally relate to the last two ones more). Whatever the excuse that made you give into that thing you promised not to touch but ended up gulping anyway, compassionate indulgence can help you forgive yourself for that mistake you’d usually beat yourself up for. Because along the way there will be mistakes, of course the transition from one lifestyle to another won’t be made seamlessly, but the important thing that will determine whether that compassionate indulgence will be cowardly or virtuous is what you’re doing with that mistake. I was first tempted to say that it will depend on what you do after the mistake but actually it will depend on how you will approach it first: will you recognise it or will you nod and fling inhibiting compassion in your own face ?

I’ve had such a hard time with this because most of the time the saying in this situation is the same; in both cases you have to say to yourself that you learned from your mistake and that you won’t do it again. Although the moment you make that mistake again, like eating a doughnut you shouldn’t have, is when compassionate indulgence has the potential to becomes this toxic parasite that won’t make you grow. You pull it out every time you reiterate the mistake so in the end you make no progress because you chose complacency under the guise of being kind with yourself. When you see that no result is showing, for instance if we reuse the weight loss example, that you haven’t lost the kilogram you were supposed to lose this week or this month remember that it’s because of that. Compassion should be mandatory in those times when you change bad habits, because at first changing them will be harsh and so new that if you try immediate complicated and intense changes you will only dislike it more, and be predisposed to give up. But this compassion should last up until you are tired of not seeing the results you want, because it’s only in that moment that you will ask yourself: “what do I really want to do in life ? What consequences will this action that I really want to do but really shouldn’t, have on the course of my improvement journey ? will it slow it down ? will it stop it ?” and what do you really want: do you want to make a decision that might feel excruciatingly painful in the moment because the doughnut seems so delicious that it will cure all of your problems, but in the long run will only slow down or even completely stop your progress towards the life you really want, a life in which you feel confident in your body (insert whatever is the motivation for you) or would you rather indulge in the momentarily pleasure that will later (and rather quickly) morph into guilt and the realisation that you self-sabotaged (very probably again) and feeling like the life you really want has strayed further away from your grip ? (damn that sentence was long.)

I might have digressed a little from my original statement, although to be honest I want this blog to be a recollection of my thoughts, remarks on life so I like the shape it’s taking, a little bit like a modern take on Montaigne’s style. I will continue on this subject in the second part.

See you later ^^






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