Sunday, July 19, 2015

7/20/15—Making One Better Decision

I've been in a funk for a while now. Call it a rut. Stuck. Difficulty moving forward. Or even call it depression. I don't know what it is. Even though I'm feeling much better than this time last year physically, the dark pall of that year of debilitating exhaustion hasn't yet lifted emotionally or spiritually. I liken it to being in a pupa and not being able to get out, no matter how hard I flap my wings. 

A friend told me a story of a butterfly trying to get out of its cocoon. If you help the butterfly by removing the cocoon, it will die. Its wings need the workout of trying to emerge in order to build strength for the new life. I love this story, because it makes me feel like all the false starts and stops I've had along the way are not wasted, but integral parts of my recovery. 

That alone, makes me feel better. But I've found something else that I think could help anyone move forward and make progress, regardless of whether they're in a rut or not. It came to me while I was meditating on finding an answer—make just one better decision each day. Make one decision that moves you forward. 

It's really kind of simple, but I'll bet most people have never consciously set out to do it. It can't be a decision you make every day. So if you already drink enough water each day, you can't make that today's decision. It has to be a better decision than the one you're used to making or want to make. And if you, say, decide to go for a walk today, that doesn't mean you have to go for a walk tomorrow. You can choose a different "better" decision each day. 

Of course, it depends on what your goals are. Mine are diet/exercise and mental wellbeing related. So on Monday, I replaced one of my meals with salad. I buy salad greens with good intentions, but never eat them because I don't like salad. So Monday, instead of deciding to eat whatever else I would normally eat, I ate some salad. On Tuesday, I had an appointment to go to, so I woke up extra early so I could get my car inspected prior to the appointment. This is one of the chores that hangs over my head and tortures me, so it was a good decision. In fact, I've made a lot of those "hangs over my head" kind of decisions this week. 

Another decision I made, which could be construed as bad, was still a better decision than I would normally make. On Wednesday, Kizzie had to go to the vet. Usually when one of the dogs goes to the vet, I make a date out of it. We stop for a treat and then go to a park. A treat might be that the dog gets a McDonalds hamburger. And while they're eating, maybe I want a burger, too. And fries. And a sugared drink. So instead of doing all of that, I ordered two waters and an ice cream sundae. Kizzie and I shared the sundae, so I ended up eating half a sundae rather than a whole meal. So it doesn't have to be the BEST decision—we could have skipped McD's altogether. It just has to be a better one. 

After a week of doing this, I have a number of things to report. First, I'm an over-achiever and have made more than one better decision each day. But it really only has to be one. And small ones count. Second, I find myself thinking a lot about my decisions, so I'm becoming more conscious of the decisions I do and don't make on a daily basis. Third, I'm feeling SO much better mentally. Prior to doing this, I might end a day feeling like I've done nothing to move myself forward. At which point, I would kick myself and feel even worse. Now I can go to bed knowing I made at least one better decision that day...that I took at least one step in the right direction, rather than staying put. 

There have been times in my life that I was able to say "tomorrow I start a new diet" and eventually that decision would stick. But I've been starting each Monday out like that for years and it's gotten to the point that I usually don't make it past the first few hours of Monday. There are people who can do that, but I'm not one of them. This "make one better decision" thing takes the emphasis off the diet and put it's on the decision. One decision. One  decision that doesn't have to be about diet, because I have two goals. It can be about my wellbeing. So that takes a lot of pressure off. And I find I want to do things to nurture myself more, too. 

I anticipate that making one better decision each day will turn into making new habits and finding new "better decisions" to make. Assuming I keep up with this, I imagine I'll find my way back to my groove, a place I haven't seen in a very long time. For me, because I'm lazy and lacking will due to being in long-standing rut, this is a hassle-free and easy way to move forward. I already see me making small changes to the way I do things and think about stuff. So I'm kind of excited. And just being excited is a move in the right direction. 

One of my decisions for today was to do another week of this decisions things. Yes, your decision can be THAT lame...haha. Each "better" decision you make puts more muscle in your wings so that when you finally emerge from the chrysalis, you'll fly farther and faster than ever before!