So I have a new mantra that’s entered my life lately, and it’s shaking up the way I think about a few things. Wanna hear it?
Who exactly are you doing a favour?
This warrants some context, so hear me out. The first thing you should know is that I can be very lazy when it comes to my bedtime routine. As in: will bargain with self, will attempt to trick self or persuade self out of doing the parts of the routine that are “boring”. I like to think (for all you Freudians out there) that this is the part of my day where the immediate needs of my “Id” (who only cares about things like food, sleep and sex) are quite obviously trying to overthrow the “shoulds” of my “Ego” (who cares about more long-term, realistic endeavours).
Yet all that aside, the point is that I’m constantly telling myself “Oh, I don’t need to wash my face today! One day won’t matter!” or “Look, if I don’t remove my eye makeup tonight, what’s it going to hurt?” or “As long as I floss most of the time, what’s the issue?”. I even sometimes tell myself that I should brush with my regular toothbrush instead of my electric toothbrush – my brain seems to think that the regular toothbrush is somehow a vacation from the electric one, which makes no sense at all.
What I’m trying to get across is that nowhere is it more obvious than in my night-time routine that I am always trying to “get out of” something. Something I know full well to be important, but I just don’t want to do. The logical part of my brain knows it’s really not even a hassle by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t stop the whiny, juvenile part of my brain from wanting to fall straight into bed without so much as brushing my teeth (which I’m proud to say has never actually happened).
A couple weeks ago, while I was having this internal debate, (the different parts of my brain holding trade-offs and negotiations) that phrase popped into my head: Who exactly are you doing a favour? Who are you “cutting some slack”? Who are you “giving a break”? Because it sure as heck can’t be ME, now can it? I’m the one who will be paying for it three months down the line when my dental hygienist “tsk tsks” over the state of my gums, won’t it? (Lightbulb! An A-HA moment!)
Perhaps this is an oft-told story of long-term consequences vs. short-term desires. And yes, I completely agree that this will not be new information to anyone. And yet: it’s much easier for that idea of being proactive (not lazy) to come to mind now that I have a little phrase that sums it up so neatly. I find it’s hard to hold any sort of abstract idea in my head as I go about my day, but having a phrase means that the idea pops up whenever it’s needed (and it’s often needed). When choosing what to eat, when choosing how to spend my spare time, when pondering pursuing something – these have been times in the last couple weeks when that little mantra has sprung up in my head, and it’s been so instructive.
As I lay in bed last week, wanting so desperately to skip my morning class. Who are you doing a favour? (didn’t skip). When I came home last night from work, really hungry and wanting badly to order in food or make something elaborate. Who are you doing a favour? (ate a few almonds instead). You get the picture. This little phrase has really been re-focusing me in a great way.