Even self-restraint has joined the list of items in the “Too Much of a Good Thing” category. According to a New Year’s day science blog post by Huffington Post’s Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., researchers are quoted in a reply to the blogger saying:
“The practical implications are exactly as you laid out — if you are trying to control urges, they might come back stronger. Or you might develop or potentiate other urges… it’s a difficult nut to crack, that’s for sure.”
This topic interests me because I have long been an extreme (ex-TREME!) self-restrainer. Ok, you there! Stop that laughing! I know I have given some of my readers plenty of opportunity to experience my emotional (read: angry) side. At those time, an excess of self-restraint was probably the farthest from your mind as a contributing factor. But I have other examples:
- You probably do not know that I have struggled with an addiction to sugar since I was a child. With full- and half- and empty-hearted attempts to give up sugar in 2013, I primarily used self-restraint to put an end to it.
- With the exception of one group diet challenge at a former employer’s, I have not been able to lose and keep off the weight I have gained in these last 13 years.
After 2014 rolled around, I thought about what I wanted to focus on this year. I decided that I want to focus on the positive, e.g. achieving my goals, instead of focusing on avoiding things. If I feel anxiety when achieving goals, I will breathe deeply and carry on. Not get rid of it, but just to let it be. Not to diet or get rid of sugar altogether, but to focus on eating micronutrients and organic, unprocessed foods. Not to hold back my feelings, but to feel them and then share them in a simple, direct manner without letting guilt or shame drive me into taking it out on anyone.
I want to be able to say, ‘You know, I’m not comfortable with that / I do not like when you do … / I feel ignored / it hurts me when, etc.’ because it is only when I acknowledge how I feel and share it with in plain words that my anger will be simple anger instead of being ANGRY. On the flip side, I hope I can hold steady when someone I love says to me, ‘You know, I’m not comfortable with that / I do not like when / You hurt me when …’. I want to be able to accept it, to breathe, and stay open even when life rushes in waves underneath me, regardless of the direction the feelings flow. Because the flow of an open relationship is so much more rewarding than indulging in chocolate chip cookies.