I confess, I don’t think I’m going to make it to 100 days.
Saying that goes against everything I know (and everything I teach) about developing the strength to break habits.
Rule 1 is, ‘You have to believe you can do it’.
I suppose that’s part of my problem. I believe I can. I just don’t want to. I’m not feeling committed to this goal the way I was committed to quitting booze and there’s a voice in my head saying, “you’re fine. You don’t have a problem.”
I remember in Claire Pooley’s book, “Sober Diaries”, she called that voice the Wine Witch. She whispers in your ear that all is well and there is no need to put yourself through this. It’s been such a long time since I went through the initial discomfort of quitting booze that I can’t quite remember if the desire to give up was as strong then as it is now.
The things is, technically I don’t have a problem. By average standards, I live a super healthy life. I start the day with fresh pressed vegetable juice, I exercise, I eat veg with every meal and I cook everything from scratch. Before starting this 100 day sugar-free quest, I ate sugar in moderation (until a month before the start of the 100 days and then I ate like there was no tomorrow!)
Before starting the 100 days, I thought I had a problem because I know sugar is basically the devil when it comes to nutrition. I know that living a truly healthy life means cutting it out entirely – along with all other processed foods. Now though, that somehow seems a bit fanatical.
I don’t want an entire life without sugar. When I did the 100 days without alcohol, my eventual goal was to develop the ability to drink in moderation. As it turned out, that took two years to accomplish and, even now, I have to be vigilant and careful. Yet, when it comes to sugar, I’m already there.
Haha! A little voice just piped up as I typed that. “No you’re not.”
I guess I’m not. If I was, I wouldn’t have felt the need to commit to these 100 days in the first place.
The mental processes that accompany habits are fascinating to me. When you give up something you’ve come to rely on, it feels like you become two people. In many ways, that’s exactly what’s happening. Although I prefer the “Chimp – Human” analogy (where your chimp is your unconscious, emotional brain and your human is you – the conscious, logical brain) rather than thinking of myself as “two people”.
My chimp is clearly upset about losing one of its comforts. It yells and has tantrums – “I don’t have a problem! I had it under control! You’ve created a problem where there wasn’t one!”. When that doesn’t work, it cajoles and whispers. “You don’t need to do this. You’re doing way better than most people. You’re already doing so many good things for your health.”
Writing this has helped me see that Claire Pooley’s Wine Witch and my chimp are one in the same and it seems you may have been hearing from my chimp at the start of this post!
I am back in charge and ready to keep going.
I think it might help to give my chimp an identity – a name, a face and a personality. It might be quite a fun way to separate her voice from my own in my head and make it easier to stick with the commitment I have made.
I made this commitment because I believed there was something I needed to change in my life, something I needed to learn and something I needed to prove to myself. Now that the weight of the challenge is clear, the easier thing to do would be to quit and my chimp / ‘personality-to-be-determined’ desperately wants me to quit. My job is to get stronger in the face of that doubt, stronger in the face of old patterns and stronger in my self-belief.
I believe that’s the best way for any of us to keep going. And that’s all we need to do. Keep going.