Why is it that when we get bad news or have a really bad day we often turn to self-destructive habits?
In the movies, a pint of ice cream on the couch follows the breakup…in country songs, we drown our sorrows with Jack or Jim. Sadly, many take it even further.
Negative emotions seem to bring about an apathy that replaces self-love and care with “I just don’t give a damn,” and even when we know we’re going to pay the next day, the escape or comfort we receive at the time is so powerful, it keeps us coming back.
Reasoning points to the simple fact that harmful coping mechanisms often feel better, can numb emotions so you don’t have to deal, may be a form of punishment, or reaction to a lack of control over ourselves or our situation. It can often be a cry for help, or simply a steadfast habit that in our minds has become a part of who we are.
I used to turn to a Whopper and fries or a bottle of wine to ease my pain, and (not so) ironically, I always said that it would probably take cancer for me to give these things up.
Then I got cancer.
Now, animal protein, alcohol and sugar are on the long list of things I have given up. But I recently realized that I still haven’t given up my coping habits.
This week I received some not-so-great news and the first thing I wanted was a cheeseburger. Fortunately, I retained enough self-respect to settle for a veggie burger with gluten-free bun and baked veggie fries (a very satisfying alternative I have to say).
And, of course, I still wanted that bottle of wine, so I replaced it with a sparkling water (in a wine glass) and a sugar-free cannabis edible (I KNOW…).
Deep down, I realize that I’m still using these habits as a comforting escape and that learning to fully process negative emotions without these influences is what I should be doing.
While I will never know why I got cancer, if I had to point to something, it’d be my past love of fast food and alcohol consumption (bad for me with Epstein-Barr while others can indulge to their delight).
But maybe, just maybe, it’s actually my inability to healthfully process negative emotions…
I’m working on it.
As author and poet Nayyirah Waheed said, “It is being honest about my pain that makes me invincible.”
THE BALANCE: Identifying the reasoning behind self-destructive habits and making positive changes today can only help on your path to good health.
I invite and encourage you to please share your trials, tribulations and triumphs on this topic…
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