Friday, April 30, 2010

Discipline and freedom

Several weeks ago, I came across this quote: You don't impose discipline for the sake of itself, you impose it for the sake of a greater freedom.

I've been thinking about this a lot. That and the relationship between will power and discipline. Will power in abstinence seems to me to be what 12-steppers call "white knuckling" it. You don't use (or eat sugar) but you are miserable while you abstain. And that doesn't interest me at all. I want the desire to eat sugar and to overeat in general to leave me. I want to not want to do it. And I think it takes discipline.

The last two nights I've been eating too much (no sugar though). I've done okay during the day but I'm overworking and that makes me tired and stressed and I want to relax with food, which is my fall back for relaxing. The first night I didn't even stop to notice I was overeating until I was done. Last night, I did notice but didn't find the discipline to stop. What I didn't do was take the thought about discipline to the next level: what do I really want?

This is a complex question. In the moment, I don't want to feel the way I feel (stressed, restless, too tired, overwhelmed). I want something that will make that go away and, so far, anything I can think that might do that is too complex for the moment, e.g., get a massage, be with friends, lie on the beach in the sun. None of that can happen in that moment. And because that's where my thinking stops, I just eat.

What I'd like to be able to do, and that brings me back to the quote, is to remember what I want in the long term, beyond this moment. That is the greater freedom. I want to have other responses to stress, or live with less of it, or see it coming sooner and plan some alternatives. I want the greater freedom of not being run by food.

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