Two things my therapist taught me have been on my mind this week.
“Willpower is not a feeling you have. It’s action you take,” he told me during last week’s cognitive behavioral therapy session, which I wrote about here.
And during a February session, he taught me that the only things we can control about our thoughts are which ones we attend to and how we respond to them: our attention and our behavior.
Willpower, attention and behavior. The common factor I began to see is that I make the decision about putting one foot in front of the other and acting. I make the decision of what to pay attention to. I make the decision of how to respond to my thoughts.
I make the decision.
I haven’t been making good decisions in regards to my obsessive-compulsive disorder and other anxiety. I also recognize that I haven’t been making the best decisions regarding my depression.
I avoid doing things that I know will help me. I’m trying to figure out how I can do better.
To be more specific, I’m trying to get out of bed at the same time every morning, at 6. I’m trying to be more diligent about setting a deadline for myself in getting my work writing done and not put it off until I have to do all of it in one day. I’m trying to be more consistent in things like working on my own writing and clearing my clutter.
When my alarm goes off at 6, my arm reaches automatically over my head so I can hit the snooze button. I hit the button every 15 minutes for the next hour or two.
Early this morning, I was awakened by Chase Bird, one of our cats. He was crying his distressed cry, which usually means he’s getting ready to throw up.
I got up and cleaned up the poor boy’s hairball. It was 5:40 when I came back to bed. I knew I could decide to just stay up. But I consciously made the decision to get back in bed. When the alarm went off, I knew I could decide to get up. I consciously made the decision to hit the snooze button.
Why can’t I make the right decision?
I am able to get up when someone else is depending on me to get up. When I have a work-related reason for getting up early, such as an interview or a trial to cover, I get up. When I have a doctor’s appointment or even a haircut appointment, I get up.
Basically, when I am responsible to someone else, I am able to put one foot in front of the other.
So why can’t I do that for myself? Why can’t I make decisions to do things such as cleaning up clutter, writing in spite of my anxieties and exercising, things that will help me?
I’m not sure.
My sleeping in is likely due to the fact that I dread having time on my hands. If I get up early, what will I do with my time until I leave for work? Well, I might have time to do something like write. But that causes anxiety. I might have time to exercise. But it will be difficult because I’m out of shape, and I won’t get in shape overnight.
It’s much easier to hit that snooze button.
I’m still avoiding. I’m still placing too much emphasis on how I feel. I’m still paying attention to the thoughts that tell me I can’t feel anxious.
This cognitive behavioral therapy is hard. Changing my life is hard.
I have to keep on trying. But I am looking for insight from you. How do you push through and do what needs to be done? How do you make the right decisions for yourself?