I know what makes me feel good. It's so very simple. My body feels great when I eat light, easily digestible food (and not too much of it). When I cut out alcohol and coffee and too much tea. When I exercise, when I do yoga, when I stretch and sleep well. My mind smiles when I meditate, my heart smiles when I laugh.
When I'm on retreat (doing all of the above) I feel pretty good. Last year on holiday in Poland I added lake swimming, cycling and kayaking to the mix and felt fabulous (well, apart from a couple of rogue nights on vodka).
So what happens when I come home? What's to stop me carrying on with what clearly works? Nobody is making me eat shit; nobody is forcing me to down half a bottle of Cointreau in one sitting. I can't make an excuse of time. I could easily fit in an hour of yoga and meditation; a salad or soup takes little more time to make than a crap sandwich. Okay, so I can't go lake swimming or kayaking every day but I have weekends, don't I?
It's as if I want to scupper myself; to hurt myself. Why? Why?
I remember when my (adopted) father was alive. His doctor told him that unless he radically overhauled his diet and started exercising, he would have a heart attack. It was that simple. He chose to keep eating (and eating and eating) and to sit on the sofa. He had a heart attack - a fatal one. So, effectively, he chose to die. It sounds brutal but that's the bottom line, isn't it?
Was dear old Freud right? Remember, he reckoned that we all have 'an innate death drive' that impels us to pursue our own downfall and death.'
I hate to believe that. So I started mosying around the Internet and found that what I'm doing is called 'self-defeating behaviour' (nice to have a name for it). It's defined as 'any deliberate or intentional behaviour that has clear, definitely or probably negative effects on the self or on the self’s projects.'
I carried on reading through the psychological literature and, really, it struck me as a load of twaddle. I read about 'trade-offs', about 'self-handicapping', about 'counter-productive strategies'. I read about how we're more likely to behave in a self-defeating or destructive manner when we have low self-esteem, depression, anxiety or emotional distress. Apparently 'highly distraught' people are more likely than others to do self destructive things. Well, doh.
Then, apparently, there's 'self-regulation failure', a lack of self-control. When self-regulation is working right, we can prepare for situations and adapt to situations. We can make sure we succeed, or allow ourselves to fail (because sometimes failure is useful).
Okay, but why? Is it back to Freud? Is there really an urge to entropy? Or is it lack of hope?
Today I am trying...once again...to flip the switch. I've done it before so I know I can do it. If I've done it once, I can do it again, right? So I went to the gym and did some yoga. I am trying to switch my mind, to feed myself messages that support health, life, happiness rather than sickness, failure, misery. Because, really, it's all in the mind. Don't you think?