Yesterday was day 10 of the no booze, no sugary food month, and I started really wanting a drink or a pudding. I was having a frustrating day - nothing much out of the ordinary, just run-of-the-mill work hiccups: unexpected problems arising which needed quick solutions, difficulty getting hold of people, that kind of thing. And I realised that I have a slightly repulsive inner dialogue going on much of the time, as if between a child and a mother: 'I'm fed uuuuuup, it's not faaaiiiiiir.' 'You're doing really well, you deserve a treat, if you're still being good at teatime you can have a nice cakie.' Bleurrghh.
I use wine and chocolate to reward myself. That's not exactly a revelation. I'm sure it's not unusual. I'm also sure I learned it from my mother, and that it's her voice in my head. I don't think it's a bad strategy, in moderation. But I do think it's got out of proportion in my life. Yes, I work hard, but do I really need a reward for good behaviour every single day? I have a life many people would kill for: a wonderful partner, a big loving family, a nice house to live in, a job I enjoy, no debts apart from the mortgage, and plenty of me-time. Isn't that enough? Why do I need to feed myself booze and sweeties, too?
We want a lot, don't we, in our overstuffed culture. PI said don't give up too much at once, and I agree, although I haven't mentioned that I'm also having a year off clothes/shoe shopping. What I really want, paradoxically, is to want less. I'd like to use up less energy on wanting, or perhaps to use it differently, to want different things. The daily desires can easily be satisfied - a glass of wine, a triple chocolate muffin - but the satisfaction is temporary, they're soon back nagging at me to think about them some more, to satisfy or deny them again. My big desire is to make my living as a writer. Maybe a month off alcohol and sugar will help me to divert some of the energy I spend on daily wanting into the big desire, the one that takes more energy to realise. Or maybe that's a fantasy, and all it will do is give me a bit of a detox, and I'll settle gradually back into my old lifestyle.
In the meantime, being a researcher, I think it's time to collect more data. So please tell: do you feel the need to give yourself treats? Why? What constitutes a treat for you?