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As Geneen Roth says, “It’s easy to want to change, but it’s hard to actually change.” Disregulated eaters often have difficulty sticking to self-care commitments, so here’s an excuse-proof way to stop wiggling out of them: An “If I’m not dead, I will…” edict which means just what it says. Sound a bit extreme? Perhaps, but it works.
Do you have trouble following through on waiting to eat ‘til you’re hungry, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, meditating, practicing yoga, making time to socialize, or taking time for yourself? You may know these activities help you feel better physically and emotionally, but not do them consistently because there are pressing reasons to not do them: you’re a busy person, you’re exhausted, doing for yourself feels indulgent and unfamiliar, you want to be productive 24/7, or you hate to disappoint others.
In short, you’re ambivalent, and more often than not, your desire to not engage in a self-care activity beats out your best intentions. You spend so much time debating whether you should or shouldn’t do something that you become exhausted arguing with yourself and give up. Fact is, folks who get things done don’t let themselves off the hook with excuses. To the contrary, they brook no challenge to their plans—they don’t even go there—and operate on the assumption that they will get things done come hell or high water. To them, it’s a given. The only time they renege on a self-care commitment is when doing that activity will actually harm them.
What works is creating an “If I’m not dead, I will…” list, which means that no matter what’s going on in your life—you’re tired, busy, at your wits end, under the weather, etc., unless it will hurt you—you most certainly will do the self-care activity you intend to do. It’s not a subject that’s up for discussion. Once you’ve set time aside for self-care, don’t give it one more minute of thought. Stop over-thinking and struggling with whether or not to do it. You know what helps and makes you feel good and need to put the part of you in charge who will do what is right for you and won’t take no for an answer.
What’s on your “If I’m not dead, I will…” list? Include whatever is a must in your life to keep you sane and healthy, then figure out when these activities will happen and put them on a schedule. It’s important to write them into your life every day of every week—go to the gym, meditate for 15 minutes, read a chapter in a book, get to sleep by 11, take vitamins. Then remind yourself often that these are fixed activities that you’ll continue to do basically as long as you’re not dead. After a while they’ll become habit.
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