Tools vs Rules

I have a habit of setting arbitrary rules for myself. It comes from a place of good intent – I decide  I need to do something (lose weight, get healthier, recover, get fitter, save money, exercise more – any old resolution really!) then I make up rules  I think will achieve this goal. In fact – the rules WILL achieve the goal! If only I could stick to them.

There are a number of reasons I don’t stick to rules:

  1. I’m older now. I’ve done it a million times before. The rigidity of youth has faded (along with elastin…)
  2. My thought processes are inflexible – if I stretch the rule or skip it a bit, I’ve failed and give up.
  3. I am naturally rebellious. Given a set of rules, I will push to see where the boundaries are.
  4. Arbitrary rules were imposed upon me as a child and imposing them on myself makes me instantly want to rebel.
  5. Rules make me feel out of control. Which seems ironic – given that I’m in control of the rule… But feelings are feelings and need to be acknowledged.

My new rule is, no rules. Instead, I need tools.

Perhaps this is semantics? I don’t know… But in order for me to be successful in the long term, I need flexibility. I also need belief in the project, belief in myself, and external support. As the conversation in my head (and on my blog) is between two crazy people, I never quite know what is a sensible approach, and what is disordered thinking.

Anyway – that was all a very long-winded way of saying, I have heard about, read about, and been told about, a gazillion different ideas for the tools of recovery. I require organisation in order to make sense of something, so I’m going to list the tools I believe are workable and valuable to me. Then I’m going to try and use them. With flexibility…

  1. Journaling: I was resistant to this at first, but once I started I realised how powerful it is. My blog is now my place to journal, so I feel I’m already working one recovery tool. I like to start off feeling vaguely successful!
  2. Mindfulness: I am not so much resistant to this, as inconsistent. When first suggested, I did it daily for months. I’m sure it helped… That was a year ago. I need to be in a habit of daily mindfulness and/or meditation.
  3. Pros & Cons: I saw this on a Facebook video the other day and thought it a great idea. Prior to engaging in [insert maladaptive coping mechanism] write down the pros/cons of engaging/not-engaging in the behaviour.
  4. Affirmations: I need quick little phrases that I can chant in my head at relevant times. ie Surf the Urge, This Too Shall Pass, The Answer is in Recovery etc.
  5. Food Plan: I really hesitate to put this in my list of tools. But seriously – at the end of the day, recovery for me is about food. It’s food I’ve stuffed up and it’s food I need to fix. So unless I have some kind of plan for food, then everything else is airy, fairy fluff. The plan will be generic and flexible though. And probably something to build to, rather than major changes right away. To be honest, I’ve started making strides in this area anyway.