I am struggling with compulsive behavior across the board. How can I break free from compulsive decision making and start healthier ones involving love, lifestyle, and finances?
Dear Bee Hives,
I think we have all been guilty of unhealthy compulsions––those things we say and do that never seem to end up well for us but, somehow, we just can't stop doing them! Ugh. It's so annoying! But the first step to putting the kibosh on unhealthy compulsions is to first realize they exist, which you have. So, you're half way there!
And Then What?
As simple of a question as it may seem, it's one many of us never ask ourselves before making decisions. We oftentimes make decisions based on impulses or immediate wants and needs, without thinking clearly about the consequences. Then, down the line, we have to live with regret for all the things we have said and done that we always had the power to control, but chose not to.
When you ask, "And then what?" you are forcing yourself to look down the line and to see the possibility of those regrets before they happen. In doing so, you are giving yourself a chance to determine or even change your path by, essentially, imagining the future. This is a very simple procedure that, when practiced, will become part of your everyday decision making.
Practicing the Procedure:
Throughout the Dear Gorgeous column, I have reiterated the importance of practicing the practice. Old habits can be unformed and new habits formed with a significant amount of practice, but not everyone know how to practice! Therefore, even the practice needs to be practiced!
So, start with small decisions in your everyday life. It can be something as silly as what to eat for lunch. For instance, you may want to eat a hamburger and even though it sounds like such a delicious idea, you know that all that meat and bread is going to leave you bloated later, and that wouldn't be too cute when you're out with your girls. Just that thought process alone has gotten you from this impulsive moment to what's going to be happening later in the evening. You're imagining the consequences of having that burger and you know it's not going to be good! So, instead, you opt for a big salad with a bit of fish and, just like that, you are making better decisions!
Be Conscious and Honest:
Begin making your decisions consciously. Stop doing things without thinking about them first, and not just about the immediate gratification you might get from a bad decision, but about the end result. Put yourself in your future! Still, the only way any of this is going to work is if you are truly honest with yourself and, believe it or not, this is the issue with which most people have the hardest time.
If you are on the precipice of making a decision that may hurt you down the line, you have to honest about why. If it's about a man, you have to be honest about his traits and about your natural reaction to such traits. If it's a financial decision, you have to be honest about where you stand financially, about what you can and cannot afford. If it's a lifestyle decision, you have to be honest about the life you're living now and the life you'd rather be living. Sugarcoating the truth is part of the reason most people are so okay with making bad decisions––until the consequences rear their ugly heads.
Here is Your Homework:
Starting now, map out the rest of the decisions you will make today, just before you make them. Think of your life like a movie because, well, it is! There is nothing new under the sun and everything has been done before. Just like the plot line is a movie, life is pretty predictable. Start practicing the procedure of prediction. If I do this, then that will happen. If I don't do that, then this will happen. Just be sure to be very honest about the circumstances. Life may be like a movie but it is certainly not a fairy tale.
Here's What Will Happen:
When you begin to ask yourself, "And then what?" things will begin to change. You will be able to avoid a lot of those ill-fated compulsions and, instead, apply new, healthy ones. Over time, you will make less mistakes and have less headaches. Life will become clearer and your path with be well determined. Just remember, nothing happens overnight. Practice takes time and practicing the practice takes patience.
None of us is perfect and we all have habits we can afford to break so, be easy and forgiving with yourself.
Have you ever found yourself in a rut, doing the same things over and over again? Have you ever been disgusted by the decisions you make without thinking things all the way through?
New York Times best selling author, keynote speaker and workshop leader, founder of The Gorgeous Girl's Guide, Steffans Publishing Enterprises, and Karrine & Co.