“Are you ready to order?” “I’ll take the grilled cheese, no bread please.” ?? My friend suggested I order this so I could stick to my low carb diet. Makes me chuckle, but I really don’t want to deprive myself of my usual comfort foods. Why is it so hard for me to do what is “for my own good”? I remember: “Take this medicine it’s for your own good.” And this meant it tastes like crap or it hurts. A big part of this dilemma is that I’m not always sure what is for my own good, and as we all know things change. I’m all about feeling better physically and emotionally as I get older, but I don’t have 50 years to figure this out. I’m shooting for better not perfect.
Like it or not (mostly not), some of the resources I had when I was younger are gone or in shorter supply. I’m not as fast, as strong, or as fit as I was. My energy bucket has a leak in it. I’m awake less hours in the day too. When I think about what’s “for my own good” I know I have to be sure that I’m not just depriving myself or paying negative costs. Following a low carb diet isn’t the most fun for me, but not getting diabetes gives me a better chance at living longer and feeling better. So there’s a reward , but it’s not immediate. Delayed gratification is tougher to buy into when the gratification may not be realized before I die! Rewarding myself as I meet incremental goals feeds my motivation and my positive feelings about myself. So practically, this looks like a cheap 20 dollar date with Amazon every 2 weeks if I stay on my low carb diet, and a low carb shake several times a week. I get some goodies as I go along, so I get rewarded on my journey towards the big reward.
What about the phenomena of the “Normalization of Suffering” as it applies to aging? What I mean is the assumption that aging brings with it all kinds of unavoidable negative consequences. We often buy into certain beliefs or stereotypes about aging that suggest decline and deterioration are unavoidable. I find myself saying “Getting older is a bitch.” and thinking some of my aches and pains are just my due as I age. What does it mean when I say “I’m too old”? What does “too old’ mean? Should I give up and just let what will be will be, and not worry about low carb diets because it won’t make any difference. The medical establishment often supports the inevitability of suffering as we age. How many times have you heard “You’re getting older and this is common in people your age.” My knee hurts and I hear its “just” arthritis from overuse for many years. Apparently, aches and pains are normal for the elderly. Would we say this to any other age group? So I swim through the molasses of these kinds of messages when I try to do what is “for my own good”. Maybe I should eat dessert first!
As a country we can’t even do what is “for our own good”. I’m sure I’ve never heard anyone say the “right” to own an assault rifle is for the good of children! We know what needs to be done to save our planet from being uninhabitable due to climate change, and we still can’t seem to do what needs to be done for the good of the planet and all life on earth. For many, the greater good seems to be power, wealth, giving in to inertia and controlling others. For damn sure, women don’t need to be told what is for “our own good” and what decisions to make regarding our own bodies and health care.
It’s up to me to define what is “good” for myself. Of course, I have to be honest and willing to take action that may be uncomfortable or even painful to take care of myself. I’m reminded that there are lots of things that are “good” for me that feel wonderful. Things like massages, warm baths, naps, and a good book are all “good for me” and I feel rewarded and not deprived. As for that grilled cheese sandwich, bring it on!