Do you know why you keep doing the things that you hate?
Do you hate the vicious circle that you can’t seem to be free from?
Do you find yourself knowing it’s wrong but doing it anyway?
What is that?
From smoking to sex, from overeating to mismanaging money, there are things in our lives that we can’t seem to leave behind, as much as we may want to. They are our slave masters, and we are the helpless, incapable servants.
As one who has dealt with and overcome many addictions myself, I know what it’s like to struggle with the contradictions of wanting freedom but living in bondage. The thought of one more cigarette makes you want to vomit, but you just have to have it. You think porn is disgusting, but you find yourself at your computer, once again helpless to look away.
It’s painful. It makes you feel small and impotent, a powerless pushover who might as well become resigned to the fact that you’ll never win. You’ll never get out of this maze.
As hard as this might be to hear, the reason you can’t let go is because there is a part of you that you don’t respect. There is a part of you that you are willing to let yourself walk all over. If you treated others the way you treated yourself, they wouldn’t be your friend for very long.
So why do you treat yourself the way that you do? Why do you let yourself get away with it? For some people, it is because there is a level of comfort in self-abuse. These people take subconscious satisfaction in the abuse they dish out to themselves. They don’t feel alive unless they are dealing with pain.
For other people, there is a fundamental ability to say “no” that they just don’t have. They can’t make a decision and stick with it. This was me. I couldn’t say “no” because I didn’t want to be rejected. I thought that if I said “yes” to everything that came my way, my friends would respect me. Sometimes they did, but this isn’t the best way to gain the respect of the people around you.
And then there are the people who just don’t care. Somewhere deep down, it doesn’t matter how much pain their actions bring them. It’s all about storytelling for these people. They tell themselves and others that everything is fine, that it’s a little bump in the road. Meanwhile, they sink deeper and deeper into the pit of denial and delusion. They figure that this is just the way it has to be.
Respecting yourself is a choice that must be made every second, if necessary. I smoked heavily for about five years. On nights when I knew I was going to go out drinking, I’d buy three packs of Marlboro Reds, and without fail, I’d wake up the next morning and they’d be pretty close to being gone. It got to the point where I resented them. I resented the automation of crushing one out only to light another. It was that vicious circle, and it was seriously affecting me to the core.
When I made the choice to quit smoking (and it is simply a choice,) I soon realized that it wasn’t just going to be one choice I made once and for all. It was a series of choices, and again, sometimes it was second by second. I would literally find myself telling myself “OK, you didn’t smoke just now. OK, you didn’t smoke just now.” Then, slowly but surely, I put some distance behind that first moment when I decided to quit. A few days. Then a few months.
Start respecting yourself. In decisions like this, start treating yourself as if it were someone you had great admiration for, someone you would never want to let down. If you don’t feel this way about yourself, then it’s time to start.