I believe in self-indulgence.
All too often, we are told that to indulge ourselves is bad, is wrong, will Lead To Disaster. I don’t find that to be the case.
Somehow when I have the treat I’m really craving, whether it’s a brownie, or a bubble bath, or painting my nails a pretty color just because it feels good to me, then I’m satisfied and can go on my way doing what needs to be done. In fact, I do it more efficiently because I’m not distracted by nagging desires yanking at my skirt like a three year old begging for attention.
When I can’t get the ten minutes to myself for a quiet think, or I can’t set up my personal projects anywhere, or I deliberately deny myself…that’s when desires become obsessions and you wouldn’t like me when I’m obsessed. I get grouchy, and my sarcasm sharpens like a razor in the hands of Sweeney Todd. I can’t hold a thought in my head for two minutes together other than WANT! NOW! That’s when I go nuts and overindulge because I’m too far gone to know when to stop.
That ain’t pretty.
Obviously there are times when one cannot indulge cravings. It’s downright impossible, just as a f’rinstance, to take a bubble bath at the office. It also may rank as a Very Bad Idea to attempt to paint your toenails whilst driving.
You can, however, tell yourself that you will take a nice, long soak in the tub after dinner, or that you’ll do your toenails on the weekend. You can remind yourself that while you can’t have a brownie right now, because the ones in the office vending machine are an offence against God and Man so heinous as to be unthinkable, you can stop at that great bakery downtown on your lunch break and get one there.
Just make sure you’re telling yourself the truth. Don’t lie to yourself and fail to do anything about the craving. Don’t try to fob yourself off with a cheap substitute. In this case, I’m using ‘cheap’ in the sense of ‘inadequate’ rather than ‘not expensive.’ After all, dinner and a night at the googleplex to see the latest action film may cost more than curling up on the with your pajamas, a cuddly blanket, a mug of cocoa, and your favorite sad movie, but the googleplex is not a good way of fulfilling that desire to cocoon on the couch.
So don’t tell yourself that carrot sticks dipped in fat-free yogurt are the same as brownies. Have a damn brownie and go merrily on your way. Be honest about the fact that sometimes you just need something because it feels good.
That way, you’ll actually be able to hear and accept it when you’d really rather have yogurt or carrot sticks than a brownie.
So indulge yourself in some small way. Do your nails, read a good book, have a slice of cake, or sit down and actually write that poem that’s been nagging at your subconscious. Just do something for yourself. You’ll feel good, I promise.
Besides, when you take care of yourself in little ways, it can actually make you better at doing what you need to do for everyone else.