How to reframe “falling off the wagon”

Sadly, I am already “falling off the wagon” on some of my New Year’s resolutions.

It isn’t even halfway through the month, and already I am feeling the massive inertia in my brain. It really does not want to expend the energy to build these new habits. I had set a rule to not miss more than one day in a row, and the first violation of that rule has come to pass. Determined not to make the same mistakes, I am looking at my response.

I have an interest in how the ways we talk to ourselves influence our thought patterns. A popular form of therapy is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which aims to reframe our responses and “inner voice” to emotions. It is quite helpful in certain circumstances.

In the interest of getting a new blog post out, and dissecting some of my psyche, I am going to explore reframing the first sentence.

Sadly, I am already “falling off the wagon” on some of my New Year’s resolutions.

Right off the bat, the first word carries a negative emotional value. “Sadly” is implying loss or failure. Instead of an objective statement about what has happened, the judgment has already begun.

Next, “already” also carries judgment, inflating the severity of the failure. It asserts there is a “normal” timeframe that I am failing to meet. That there is a hypothetical average time at which a person would fail their resolutions, and I am exceptional in my speed of failure.

“Falling off the wagon”, besides being intensely cliché (come on brain, at least be original!) conjures an image of myself on the dusty ground, the wagon continuing on without me. So, not only does it highlight the failure to be consistent, but it implies loss and potential abandonment from those “on the wagon”. Perhaps this isn’t explicitly recognized (I didn’t really recognize it until writing this post), but I think these feelings exist somewhat subliminally.

These are the three big lexical components that changed, I think, can produce more positive self-talk. I present a now-revised statement:

I am progressing when and how I need to, and I should celebrate that.

Yellow Leafed Poplars by Kuroda Seiki

The above is the painting “Yellow Leafed Poplars” by Kuroda Seiki. While it may not be explicitly relevant to this post, I think it could be a useful visualization (also, I wanted an image in this post).

This road is almost exactly the one in my mind when I think of “falling off the wagon”. I have been sitting here, visualizing the fall. The dust on the ground, the sudden thud and jolt of the impact. But now I am going further. I sit up and look around, at the silent brush, the soft greens and yellows of an autumn afternoon. You know what? It’s alright being down here. Sitting with nothing to do. Instead of feeling bad about the wagon rambling on, maybe I should just enjoy the day that I have right now.

Death is the only finish line in life. It costs nothing to be kind, and that should include how I talk to myself. Already, at the end of this post, I am noticing that some of the resistance in my brain is lessening. The excitement is beginning to overtake the dread, the apathy.

Perhaps some people really do the best with extreme self-discipline and harsh feedback. I know now, I am not one of them.

Day 9 of the #100DaysToOffload challenge done. This really became a post of self-discovery, which I wasn’t expecting. I hope I don’t come off as too preachy or aloof, the academic background in me tends to push me that direction.