I’ve been ruminating on a few conversations as of late. My daughter and I have discussed at length recently certain behavior patterns. What is it that makes us revert to habits and mannerisms that are not good for us?
I had a great day yesterday. Got out and shopped and fixed the car. Had a stellar workout and focused on getting my home in order. If I can get the space that I call home organized then this will reflect in my being. I am certain of this.
Memories of an article that I read a few years back comes to mind. It was about the psychology of clutter. When we hang onto things that are of no apparent value or sentiment (i.e. magazines, newspapers, old bills and pay stubs, etc.) and these are just a few examples of what may be accumulated. It is actually a good indicator that you are suffering from an emotional or mental disorder. In many cases you are holding and trying to stifle certain thoughts, emotions. There is an odd comfort in clutter it would seem. Then of course, there are several more clues into your mental state with regard to how you manage your clutter.
When I was going through this period of my life I can say that my clutter was very organized. I would go through the stacks of magazines and organize each pile accordingly. I got better with the old bills and would sit down every six months or so with a green garbage bag and tear them up if they were really old. I’m now making it a point to get as many bills e-mailed to me as possible.
The day that I decided to get rid of the stacks of magazines was quite remarkable. The lightness of being that I experienced in that moment was truly surprising.
I had not read the article at that point as the purge of clutter began approximately ten years ago now. Silly knick knacks covered bookshelves, coffee tables, etc. but always clean and placed just so. In fact I had to have the coffee table placed a certain way as I found it incredibly annoying if the wood grain was running up down rather than left to right while sitting on the sofa.
Friends and family found this rather quirky behavior funny.
These behavior patterns, however, spoke to how out of control I felt at times. The thing about clutter though is that I could control the piles of magazine and the way the coffee table was centered. My behavior was at times a little compulsive.
In 1994 I was engulfed in one of the darkest years of my life. Repressed memories were surfacing in a heartbreaking manner and depression wound its tendrils tightly round me and in that year my home looked like a bomb fell on it most of the time. Doing the simplest of tasks seemed to take a monumental amount of energy. Clothes were washed when there were no clean ones available. This applied to the dishes, the housework…pretty much everything.
I was lost. During that year I read about two hundred romance novels. I found just attending to my own personal hygiene extraordinarily cumbersome. Emerging from that year long hell, I was committed to finding a way to manage this condition. And I’ve done very well at managing it.
These days when I find myself wanting to partake in something that won’t be beneficial to my health, I often talk out loud to myself.
For example, last night at about 10 PM I felt like a snack. I wasn’t hungry at all. Yet I wanted to order a Pizza. And if I did this, then I would likely eat way too much.
The conversation I had with self went down like this.
“I want Pizza.”
“Why do you want Pizza?”
“I just do.”
“Are you hungry?:
“Then why do you want Pizza?”
“I deserve it. I’ve been so good with my diet lately.”
And this was the statement that, as it slipped from lips, I jumped on.
“Deserve it? Why do you want to stuff your face with crap? What type of reward is that?”
And it’s not a reward. It is a conditioned response.
Growing up I was rewarded with food for completing chores or just behaving myself. Cakes or cookies were the norm. I would imagine this may be the case for many children. I did this with my child as well. My daughter having been very good would be taken for ice cream or the like.
Unfortunately should things not be so great during the formative years rewarding oneself can morph into rather destructive behavior. Eating can become a psychological manifestation of trying to comfort or fill an emotional void. Furthermore it can become a punishment of sorts.
And it can be learned behavior as well.
As I move through these moments I am always amazed at the intricacies of the brain. What is it that keeps coming back to insist that I’m being too good and must ‘reward’ myself with things that are not good for me?
What I have come to understand is that I really need to be in the moment, experience it fully and release it. And with this ideology comes the notion of dealing with what I’m feeling at any given time as it occurs.
Not as easy as it sounds but I shall persevere.
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