Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Don’t Undervalue Overdo

© 2010 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Excess. We all indulge, whether it’s too much make-up, food, drink, drugs or passion. (I have spared you the gross visuals on the other overdo’s. Dripping lipstick is ewww enough!)

In the past few years, I have become intimately acquainted with Too Much in my life. I eat too much; I write too much; I am at the computer too much; and I give too much. To reel me back to reality now and then, I designed a bracelet that says “Enough” in alphabet beads.

I will be the first person to admit; I’m compulsive. It goes with being very mental. If it’s stuck in my head and it’s an idea that intrigues me or a behavior that tickles the senses, it triggers my to-do button, often till it’s stuck on Can’t Stop. Not always, but probably too often. I’m grateful I don’t fall prey to some of the excesses that can lead to addiction, such as alcohol or drugs. I don’t like “substances,” but I sure like food, coffee, and some of the other feel-goodies.

When You Can’t Stop

I’m not sure I know the difference between a compulsion and addiction, but my intuitive take is that a compulsion is a habit that can be turned around with a little work. If someone threw a bucket of cold water on me or I activated some other mechanism to wake me up out of the rut, I would stop. I do stop for considerable periods. But I often start again. Food is the hardest because you can’t completely abstain from it, and I am the daughter of a gourmand with a very refined palette that wants quality yummies!

I feel good in the groove of my compulsions. Compulsions are knee-jerk. On the other hand, it appears that addictions rarely can be stopped without the major intervention of therapy and/or a 12-Step program.

For the dictionary.com differences, here are the definitions compulsion and addiction. The key distinction is that a compulsion is something irresistible and contrary to your will. An addiction is defined more strongly as enslavement with components that are psychological or physiological—and the cessation of the behavior causes severe trauma.

Garden Variety Overdo—A Gift

What I want to talk about today is what I call garden-variety overdo or the occasional binge. I am not addressing true addiction because of its severity, and because I'm not qualified to do so. (If you suspect you have an addiction, please get help. A good place to start is with your doctor or any of the “Anonymous” programs: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, or Sex Addicts Anonymous.)

For those of us who binge periodically but don’t suffer serious withdrawal consequences when we quit, I think a binge is one of nature’s most precious gifts of biofeedback.

How terrible do you feel after you eat or drink too much? Or have too much sex? At minimum, nauseous, hung-over, and possibly sore. This is the body’s way of telling you that excess is not a great idea. You got it out of your system, but there’s enough feel-bad in the aftermath, you’re not going to do the same thing tomorrow night, if you’ve got any sense.

Sometimes a sweets binge for a week can set me straight for months at a time. I don’t understand how it works, but I’m grateful for it. Have you ever eaten 10 times more sugar trying to avoid that craving for a chocolate bar? A friend clued me into this phenomenon. She said that she finally realized that a moderate amount of the best chocolate she could buy satisfied her craving quickly and for a long time. She was burying her chocolate craving under donuts, sugary cereals, and a ton of other crap. She ate more “bad sugar” avoiding a modest amount of “good sugar.” We read more and more about how small amounts of dark chocolate have benefits, if we can work with “binge biofeedback” and keep excess in check.

All Things in Moderation, Including Moderation

Like all modern, cosmopolitan people, I am looking to find balance in my life. My cool insight on this topic isn’t original; it has been said in the well-known expression about “moderation” in the header above this paragraph. This quote, by the way, is attributed to Petronius (c. AD 27-66), a Roman writer and a noted satirist.

If occasional overdo reels you in on your excesses in the long run by its immediate consequences, I say let’s party.

In fact, I'll drink to that!


Photo Credit: © Graça Victoria - Fotolia.com

Week #4 Comment Contest Winner is JuliaAna from Shell Knob, MO who commented on the post, Love in Later Life--Spirited Edition. What a lovely irony, since I wrote that particular post at JuliaAna's request.  She has won an autographed copy of Capital Crimes: 15 Stories by Sacramento Area Authors. It includes my story, "Digital."

Thanks to all of you who played! I love an interactive blog, and I hope you had so much fun, you’ll be back often. The real prize is the new people you’ll meet, ideas you’ll share, and tips you’ll find on spirited living.


Alessandra said...

LOL! I totally relate.
Try a few drops of sandalwood oil on your heart chakra. It is amazingly grounding and calming of all excessive emotions.
Alecs xox
p.s. gets rid of a headache if applied to the forehead in minutes.

Joyce Mason said...

Alecs, thanks for this reminder about sandalwood. It's very calming, and I love the scent in bath products, etc. I'd heard the headache connection, too. Wonder if it works for hangovers? LOL!

Eileen Williams said...

I find myself indulging in compulsive activities as a way to procrastinate. When I was in school for my M.A. (and in my early forties--certainly a grown-up), I still ate at least one (if not two) huge bowls of ice cream before sitting down to write a paper.

Maybe it was the call of the forbidden, maybe it was my way of acting out, or maybe it was just a plain old sugar high, but I always seemed to need that before my mind could focus. At any rate, when I graduated, I needed to go on one heck of a diet!

I don't think I'm alone. I think most of us have some compulsions or addictions and life would be pretty dull without some highs and lows, times of control and times of abandon.

But, it's getting time to pay the piper. The party can't go on forever and, as I grow older, the old bod is asking for a bit more control and a bit less abandon!!!

Joyce Mason said...

Eileen, thank you so much for bringing up the issue of procrastination. I have only recently gotten onto myself about this motivation behind much of my compulsive behavior. Just last night I had to "sugar myself up" to go deal with something I wasn't up to emotionally. I definitely relate to the body being less forgiving of our excesses as we age. I love your insights on this topic!