Freewrite on a Thought: Willpower

Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013

Roll: 3,3. Result: Freewrite, Thought.

I guess for this one I just write whatever comes to mind, like I did in my … writing class. I can’t remember what it was called. I need to switch off of this noisy keyboard.

Okay. Back to stealth keyboard.

Today I’ve been thinking about my own willpower. In my private thoughts I brag about it a lot, but I don’t really have much to show for it. “Yeah I’m a master of self-discipline!” I think to myself, regularly. And in some ways I am, for short term things like enduring pain or … well, maybe that’s it, but for long-term things I am very distractible, and this ranges from things like writing in a writing blog every day, to working out even remotely regularly and/or the ongoing struggle I have with my caffeine/sugary soda (read: energy drinks) addiction.

I don’t have much experience with addiction, but I’m pretty sure rationalizing “Well it’s been a week, I obviously have it under control, how ’bout a celebratory Monster?” means I have failed. A few days ago, I told myself I would stop using caffeine and stop using alcohol. I’ve done the caffeine thing before, but I’ve never said I would stop drinking alcohol, because I’ve never thought it was a problem.

Now, I don’t think I am, nor do I want to be, an alcoholic, but I read that drinking alcohol worsens problems with anxiety. I also don’t have anxiety, at least not to my knowledge (not clinical anxiety; I definitely get anxious at times), but if it makes anxiety worse, causes short-term memory loss, and is poison, I figure I might as well drop it. I was drinking a bit of red wine every night, because of the benefits of resveratrol, but often I would drink more than was needed for said benefits, because “why not?” I already feel like I’m not experiencing life as clearly and directly as I want to be, and I don’t think getting tipsy most nights would ever possibly help with that. So that’s why not. Also I would drink beer when we had it, and then the wine as well, because it was my daily dose. Beer isn’t exactly good for you (just like sugary soda! ugh and non-sugary soda, but I can’t go off into possible ill-effects of diet beverages in this freewrite), and I was drinking that on top of the wine, so beer can suck it also.

I work at a liquor store, LOL, so I expect this will be difficult. Even just in the past couple days I’ve looked at some of our new products and thought “Oh this looks delicious! I’d like to have this around. Oh, wait. Nevermind.” But with each frown comes a sense of pride and self-satisfaction. I only hope it’s enough to outweigh the real problem with my willpower, WEIRD INEVITABLE RATIONALIZATION.

Weird inevitable rationalization, or WIR, is the gradual build-up of reasons to stop trying to kick the addiction or habit, or whatever it is. For example, a couple days after stopping with caffeine, maybe I’ll be up late, and then I have work early in the morning, so I’ll think “Yeah, well today is an exception, because I need it to be awake, or else I’ll be useless!” And if I don’t get caffeine that day, it’s possible that my rationale will snowball, and it will turn into “Well, I felt awful all day that day, and now I’m even more tired! But I can’t sleep again, so I will need caffeine tomorrow or else it will be unbearable!” Or, here’s one that worked: “I have already bought the Mountain Dew. If I don’t drink it, it will be wasted money.” (Better yet, “If I don’t drink it, someone else in the family will end up drinking it and it is unhealthy! I can’t do that to them.”)

Basically, if you combine all those reasons, it is impossible to argue with, so I end up drinking the Mountain Dew. So, update. I had a Mountain Dew last night before Friendsgiving, at which I drank a Redd’s Strawberry Ale, a vodka seltzer, and a shot of Sambuca. Then today I had another Mountain Dew. My WIR’s were as follows: (for Mt. Dew last night) (1)I don’t NEED it (2) I like the way it tastes/feels and this is a party, at which people have things they like (3) I gotta get rid of these Dews, lest I drink them because I feel like I need them, and I can start not drinking caffeine when they are all gone. (for the alcohol, and I thought a lot about this) (1) it is a special occasion, an exception to the everynight drinking that I am trying to kick (2) I don’t want to make people uncomfortable by not drinking and having that be a “thing” (3) holding a drink will make me feel more comfortable at the party, allowing my own good time, while also being tastier than water, if that were the beverage in my cup (4) I will only have a drink if it is offered. (for today’s Dew) (1) I am playing video games, and sodas are the icing on that cake (2) I gotta get rid of these Dews, lest I drink them because I feel like I need them, and I can start not drinking caffeine when they are all gone. Honestly that last reason will probably not stop me from finishing the Dews. Scratch that, I will let someone else drink the Dews. I would like to feel like I have control over myself.

As indicated, this is an ongoing struggle. I retain that having some alcohol at special occasions is not the end of my world, but I will temper the storm of thirsts that ordinarily take hold in those situations, and avoid alcohol at all costs in any other circumstances! I will not drink sodas with caffeine in them, or sodas at all for that matter, because what’s the point if there’s no caffeine? And I will not consume caffeine intentionally in other forms (the “intentionally” is to allow for Nesquik, which is 99% caffeine free, so I don’t think it counts). (I wonder if I could intentionally drink the Nesquik without intentionally consuming the caffeine that I know is in it. I should know, since I took a class on intentionality.)

While the health benefits of kicking my habits/addictions are worthwhile in their own right, what I’m really looking for is proof that I have actual, real-life willpower, and that I can use it to control my fate. Once I achieve that proof (or manifest the willpower, which seems more to be what I’m trying to do, since I don’t think I have HAD much in the past), I will obviously continue to not have these bad habits, and also move on to bigger and better uses of said willpower. This is my plan.

While I’m here, I might as well commit to posting something on this blog quazi-regularly. I will try for every night. But things happen, and I’m more concerned about the other shows of will, even though those are more about slapping myself on the wrist every now and then, whereas writing these is more about sitting myself down and committing to a nice session of focused, wholesome work. Maybe that will be the next chapter of my struggle with willpower: work.

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