You don’t overeat because you’re weak.
You don’t watch TV because you’re lazy.
You don’t avoid exercise because you’re unfit.
And you don’t fall short of your New Year’s resolutions because you lack willpower.
Everything costs something, and the costs of those “bad habits” are well-documented. Drinking too much, exercising too little, sugar, Netflix, smoking, you name it: we know what these cost us.
But the improvements we think we want have costs, too. For instance, avoiding sugar means being that person at the party who turns down a slice of birthday cake, and that means having to explain why—and being judged for it. It means reading the label of everything you buy, and asking about every item on the menu. It’s a social cost, and not a small one.
Want to wake up earlier? Get in a run before work? You’ll pay for that with the sleep you were otherwise getting (or, if you go to bed earlier, with you whatever you were doing while staying up late).
Want to give that up watching TV? That will cost you, too. TV allows you to participate in the stories of your culture with a protective screen between you, without fear of judgement or reproach. Characters feel like friends, resolved conflicts feel like triumphs: those feelings are real, and that time in the wee hours of the night is precious.
Giving up drinking isn’t just giving up drinking; it’s facing whatever demons are hiding behind the drink. That costs friends, family, space, time, money. That cost is steep.
Everything costs something, but there’s another side: every cost you pay buys you something. Human brains don’t pay for nothing, and your “bad habits” are sustaining you somehow.
Loneliness is literally fatal—but interestingly, it is not the being alone; it is the feeling alone that carries the risk. Seeking out a Netflix binge is a means of assuaging feelings of loneliness; it is a form of self-preservation. Yes, it is has costs—but also benefits.
Smoking is a powerful form of stress reduction. Anger, self-consciousness and appetite are measurably reduced within ten seconds of lighting a cigarette; smoking is an immediate balm for what, to some people, are otherwise-unmanageable psychosocial challenges.
This doesn’t mean that a Netflix addiction or a two-pack-a-day habit doesn’t have consequences—but imagine, just for a moment, that there is no such thing as “bad” or “good” habits. There are no faults, no merits, no self-improvement or self-sabotage. There is only what you need to get, and what you can afford to pay for it.
In 2018, resolve to do just one thing only: protect yourself. It is a resolution you cannot possibly fail. If you resolve to do this one thing, you will start to see what you are getting for the costs you pay.
This resolution absolves you of feeling broken, or weak-willed, or beyond help. You are worth protecting, and everything you do proves it, whether it’s a cigarette first thing in the morning or bowl of raw kale and a 9:30 bed time. You knew all along what you needed, and you got it however you could.
A wonderful thing happens when you realize you are worth protecting: you will begin to find new ways of protecting yourself. Right behind the resolution to protect yourself is the realisation that there is more than one way to do so.
Maybe one day it’s a three-mile run, and the next day it’s three episodes of Stranger Things. Like all things of value, you’ll begin to collect new strategies for protecting yourself, and start to see patterns in what you can and can’t afford. There’s no wrong way to keep yourself safe, and more ways is always better.
Happy New Year from the Reembody Method.