How To Deal With Guilty Pleasures?

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2 years ago
Do you have guilty pleasures?

I grew up under unconventional circumstances that led me to becoming a pretty complex adult. I tend to have a lot of “out of body” moments where I’m amazed at how functional and okay I am most of the time; that I don’t exhibit my scars and baggage all that much. I think a lot of us do- we muster all the energy we have to be present, social beings and sometimes it’s like we’re on auto pilot, just carrying on with life as required, not really fully aware of our past and the baggage it carries. 

I say this all though as a precursor to the fact that though I (we) may be functional for the most part, there are moments where I crumble and I need means and ways to carry on without needing an on the spot therapy session. This is where guilty pleasures (also known as vices) come in (goodness I’ve just Googled the word ‘vices’ and it carries a lot of intense definitions!!!) The vice I’m talking about is like a bad habit- smoking, drinking, binging, shopping, the one where you pull strands of your hair or bite your nails- that kind of vice.

Guilty pleasures/vices are often seen as negative, toxic habits that don’t help or benefit someone. Anyone who has a vice will strongly disagree with this. It’s different from an addiction because it’s not something that we need, it’s something that we want. Almost like a reward for being able to stay functional enough for a period of time and we just need something as a “Well Done” to keep us going. You see what I mean? We all do it! There’s a high likelihood you wouldn’t even call it a vice, but at the same time you know there’s no urgency for this habit or thing in your life, but you still want to indulge because you can. 

I have many vices. I have changed vices over the years but I know for a fact that I indulge in them to carry me through my day to day. Between craving a sugary treat, to scrolling countless times in a day on a shopping app, to binging far too many crime series on Netflix,…..I have vices. I’m not always proud of the amount of time I give to them and I’m aware that they do get the better of me sometimes, but it’s like they’re a friend that knows I’ve had a hard day, week, month, life and that this little bit of gratification will keep me okay for now. 

In the past, when I was younger and my body was more able to process the junk I put in me, I used to practice many stupid vices, mainly drinking,…way too much. I was a weekend-buy bottles of wine-sit in my room-binge movie after movie-get pissed drunk and fall asleep-kind of gal. It was fun and satisfying, but it was also very painful and sad. I was going through an awful break up at the time and Tove Lo-Habits (Stay High) was the anthem to my life. Thinking back now, I was probably on the cusp of addiction but I was able to pull myself back and shake the sadness off. It’s strange because it (the vice) was definitely bad, really unhealthy and dangerous, but it was also so un-judgmental and patient. I was my worst when practicing those vices and I felt somewhat my safest too. I had enough common sense to never take it too far and I knew I just had to just process things that certain way to tick a box and move on from it. It’s unconventional and I know so many people would disagree with me cause it can get real grey and blurred with addictive behavior, and I totally get that. But for me at least, it helped, and I’m better for it. 

All that being said however, in the midst of me just being able to get through my own stuff, in comes people, just any and everyone- judgments, voices, opinions, assumptions,….people. Whilst I am trying to figure things out on my own, people who witness this or know of it, give their unwarranted two cents. Well meant, caring and thoughtful most of the time, it still cuts at places and points unnecessarily. I remember being drunk a couple of times when out, and friends being worried and shocked when I’d push a bit too far, talked to others till it became news (ever been there?…) The ‘intervention’ I got really did a number on me. To be told that I had a problem and that I was self destructing really hurt. 

Now let me give you a short glimpse into what it’s like being black out drunk (so this is when the vice has really kind of taken over),….You have no memory more often than not and that is scary for someone. There’s a heavy version of guilt that weighs you down real low, you’re nervous about what you’ve said to whom and what you did, the consequence of not remembering sucks. And when people tell you what they know, sometimes it can be funny, sometimes it’s God awful. You’re left feeling so humiliated and so sorry-that alone is enough to keep you sober for-ever. When someone presses on this guilty feeling-wanting you to really suffer and learn-it’s permanently damaging. I had to sit through a conversation with my pastor about how destructive my drinking habits have been and how I really just need to get my life together and not do this anymore. After that conversation and since, I haven’t been drunk, nor have I had a craving for alcohol. It’s a version of shame I can’t begin to describe. I do drink socially, occasionally, but the vice bit for me is gone. Good or bad, who knows, but the damage to me as a person, I can say is 100% not worth it. 

So my point, if you have a vice, if you know friends or people with vices, here’s how to be a bit more human and kind about it:

1.) Genuinely and sincerely don’t judge. As people, we’re all working towards perfection a lot of the time (however aware of it we are) and vices keep us going. We know it’s bad but it is pushing us. Your unsupportive-ness doesn’t help. Be a friend and hold our hand instead and just support us as we try to figure things out. 

2.) Have honest conversations with yourself. If you feel like your time, quality of life and self are revolving around the vice too much (i.e.: turning into ‘need’ more than ‘want’) than have a therapy session with yourself. Ask yourself, is this really helping or is it taking over instead. Be kind to yourself but also find ways to untether from the habit so that it doesn’t become too entangled in your life. 

3.) Try to pick ‘healthier’ vices. Ones that won’t compromise your health too much, ones that won’t bankrupt you or put you in any danger. Get to a place where the vice is a good and helpful friend rather than an indulgent monster. Vices can start that way, and for me, I think that’s fine, just try to evolve it over time as you grow into a more self sufficient person. 

Be kind to people, and be kind to yourself.

I think the most important thing here is to pause and be kind always, to others and mostly to yourself. We never give ourselves enough credit for getting to wherever it is we are in life, and we need all the help we can get to be there. So despite our vices, I want us to know that we’re amazing people, and we’re doing so so well. Drown out the negative voices, dull away the self doubt and allow yourself this- you are acing life. No one knows you better than you, and you know how to look after and push yourself the best. Thrive and smile and know that I’m so very proud of us. 


A from The Happiness Equation

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2 years ago