Reframe and Treat Yo'self :)

CW: Alcohol

For the last year, with brain chemistry and past hurts fairly well dealt with, my biggest obstacle has been my attitude–mostly jaded, with what felt like moments of clarity where I wanted to run away from everything. Rationally, I know that I’m in a waiting period as things like debt, savings, and my wife’s career realign themselves, but I was unable to shake the persistent notion that life has stagnated and I’m stuck.

My therapist focuses a lot on a good work-play balance, and the idea that if you don’t do anything rewarding you’ll burn out and dread living. My work-life balance is healthy, but I didn’t have any play in the life part of that balance. Between being cheap and wanting a brain break after work, I wasn’t really interested in taking on new hobbies–more things to “should” myself with. I already have plenty of leisure activities that I “should” do, how is a new hobby going to be any different than those?

He finally broke through my shitty attitude a couple weeks ago by asking what little things I enjoy. “Nothing in particular.” Really? You don’t do anything at the end of the day or the work week that just helps you chill out? “I mean, I like to have a beer.” How does that make you feel? “It doesn’t. It’s just part of my day.” He went on to ask if I could consider that a treat. For over 12 years, I’ve willfully fought the notion that I deserve rewards. Instead, I’ve believed that good things are earned through hard work and diligence, whether they’re vacations, gifts to myself, or my own happiness. “Do the things you need to now, so you can do the things you want to later.” It hadn’t occurred to me to think of my Friday afternoon happy hour as a treat.

That Friday, I went to the brewery nearby and got a cup of my favorite beer, but instead of just sighing with relief that the work week was over, I told myself “This is my treat for crushing it at work this week.” It felt really good! In that moment, I realized had just been using my end-of-week ritual as a way to pass time, as well as anything else that could be construed as fun. What does one do to “earn” a beer anyhow, or anything else for that matter? I realized I hadn’t been enjoying those little things before, and it flipped my perspective on “play.”

There are still plenty of things I need to work for and earn, and I’m still not on board with the notion of “deserving” anything. Maybe though, I can have small treats just because, and maybe all it takes to make them treats is to actively and willfully frame them that way. I’m still struggling with balancing meds and sleep health, and still feel more foggy and dull than I’d like, but in the last couple weeks my mood has elevated significantly!



I’m glad to see you want to improve. Enjoying the little things are good. Keep at it!

That’s so beautiful and awesome. I love what you just shared, so much. There’s a lot, lot of treasures and enjoyment to find in the present moment, but it doesn’t come naturally. At least, being fully conscious of it requires sometimes to shift our perspective. It sounds that your therapist really pointed out something valuable!

I’m so glad you were able to embrace that simple yet essential moment at the end of your day, in a different way, as this memory will stick with you and keep inspiring you to treat yourself in a more loving way - just because you are you, and even more just because you are, not because you would accomplish something.

The “deserving” thing is a tough one. I’m right there with you on the struggle bus of feeling like you need to burn yourself out in order to, eventually, “deserve” a reward. It’s a never-ending switch between “too much” and “not enough”. So many times in order to compose with my depression I tried to reward myself for my efforts but it felt so artificial and I just had no enjoyment at all. So many times, after work, my break at the end of the day was a way to use that time and not a way to truly relax and enjoy the present moment. I’d always find an excuse to invalidate the break/reward anyway. A little bit like eating without any appetite, you know? Food becomes tasteless and only a way to fill our stomach or function physically. But what about the taste and flavors of what we’re eating? What if it’s not all about functioning, but being alive?

Yes, yes and yes: you can have small treats “just because”. And sometimes just setting an intention can do miracles in the way we experience something.

This life is hard enough, this world is wild enough, and you totally deserve to embrace those little pleasures, even just for making it through daily challenges. Oftentimes, when we’re an overachiever, we tend to be afraid of breaks and rewards and to see them as something that would make us lazy. But I believe this is actually a way to cultivate humility. It’s a way to acknowledge your journey, your growth, yet at the same time not taking it for granted. Instead, you honor and embrace its beauty at the present moment. Just how it is, just how you are, during a fraction of time.

When you reward yourself, you learn to thank yourself for your progress and your efforts through the years, because maybe what you could do today wasn’t possible a while ago, or at least not the same way. You also learn to be more thankful for all the circumstances in your life that are making this very moment possible. You embrace the magic of its uniqueness and ephemeral beauty. Quite special isn’t it?

You’re on your way to become some kind of mindful photographer! :smile: You learn to look at a scene through different perspectives that allow you to catch new shades of light and colors. They were always there, but it needed you to change your position and perspective. You compose differently, because your intention changes, and so your vision too. Just like the difference between 2d and 3d. A matter of perspective. You’ve just experienced how it feels to multiply them. Congrats!

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