The trouble with #treatyoself

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how often I tell myself I “deserve” something. It was a tough week at work, let’s go get ice cream. I achieved x or y important goal at the gym, better go buy myself a new outfit. I’m feeling kind of down this weekend, hmm, it might be fun to go shopping. I’ve been really on track lately making healthier choices, I deserve a night out. …. #treatyoself …you get the idea.

*Disclaimer, before you read any further, make any assumptions or assign me to the fun police: I think it is absolutely, completely, 100% OK to reward yourself with food and/or shopping once in a while.

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Ice cream may be my favourite food of the summer, but a good burger is a close second. #treatyoself

…now that that’s out of the way….

I’ve followed up that thinking by asking myself why? Why are food and shopping my go-tos when experiencing both highs and lows? How are they both a crutch and a reward? I’m starting to sound all therapist-y now. Is ice cream really what I’m after? Am I just eating/buying something, covering it up with a cute little hashtag so I don’t have to face my emotions and deal with my problems?

As I said at the top, I truly do think it’s ok to work hard, set a goal, and reward yourself with something after. And I joked last week about ice cream is my love language…and sometimes you just *need* that bowl of moosetracks. It feels good to be sad, angry, bummed out or whatever and grab a spoon a dig in.

So how do we grapple with that? How do you #treatyoself, enjoy the fun/delicious things that life has to offer, while still dealing with our emotions?

*Spoiler alert: I don’t have all the answers, just some thoughts, and maybe a few questions you can ask yoself before you #treatyoself.

Is this becoming a habit? Let’s take my ice cream love affair as an example. Maybe it was a tough week this week, one of my girlfriends wants to hang out, the weather is gorgeous, so I suggest ice cream. Cool. Great. Sounds like a plan. #treatyoself happily ever after. Oh wait. I “deserved” ice cream last week when I was celebrating a friend’s birthday. And the week before when I finished report cards. I know I’ll deserve it next week when school is done. Hmmmm….

Now, you can go one of two ways from here. First would be to obviously see the pattern, and that ice cream is becoming less of a treat and more of a regular occurrence, and maybe reign it in a bit (either that or #treatyoself to new pants in a bigger size).

The other way you could go is to stop and think about why we assign food such emotional weight and value. Yes, ice cream is a treat, but at the end of the day, food is just food. And maybe eating it doesn’t have to be such a deal (read up here on how you can eat ice cream and not derail your goals). Maybe you can eat ice cream (in reasonable amounts, balanced with healthier choices) and move on with your day and it’s not a problem.

I wasn’t kidding when I said I don’t have all the answers. It gets murky pretty quickly.

Next question you can ask yourself is an obvious one: why? Why do I “need” this? Why do I “deserve” this? What am I rewarding myself for? Does it have to be food/treats/shopping? Could it be something else? Do I feel like I’m not getting the rewards/affirmation/recognition I deserve (man, I really am going full-on therapist mode today)?

Again, if you’re celebrating, I’m a full believer in the Julia Child school of thought: “A party without cake is just a meeting.” Enjoy those treats! And if you’ve set a goal, worked hard and achieved it, then go for it! Buy yourself that new outfit. But what if you’re not celebrating? What if that “reward” is just a cover-up for something else? Moving on to the next question…

Am I using #treatyoself as a substitute for something else/to avoid dealing with a certain feeling? I’ll use myself as an example again (hey it’s all I’ve got to work with…). I am somewhat of a homebody, always have been, always will be. Thus, while I am a pretty busy person who goes out and socializes a good bit, I also am quite happy if my weekends involve a good chunk of time at home. Often this time at home is filled with a lot of laundry, meal prep, housework, gardening, etc (you know #adulting) stuff.

I’ve found myself one more than one occasion at the end of what I like to call “to-do list Saturday,” thinking “man, I should go shopping right now. I deserve to buy something nice for my place after doing all that hard work.” Or, “tomorrow I’ve got that (insert whatever weekend event) to go to – I deserve a new cute outfit after all I’ve done today.”

But really, do I? If I’m just doing run-of-the-mill adulting, doesn’t everyone do that? I mean sure, it’s not always super fun, and might not be inherently gratifying, but do I really need to reward myself for performing tasks that make me a functional human being? Hmmm….

What if the thrill of buying myself a cute outfit or something new for my house is just a distraction for the fact that I’m lonely sometimes? That I got everything crossed off my to-do list and now what? If I go buy something, I won’t be thinking about how I’m alone. And how, while I’m happy with all I accomplished, I wish I had someone to share that accomplishment with.

Am I hiding behind a hashtag? This makes me think about the social media post I just wrote. How social media is everyone’s highlight reel. We see all the treats, but not the in between. All the glory, none of the grind. I’ve used #treatyoself (and I will say it again, I think treating yoself is important!!!) on more than one occasion. But the last thing I want to do is create an illusion of a life filled only with treats, when in reality, it takes a lot of hard work day in and day out to get there.

IRL and online, celebrate and share your #treatyoself moments…but how about you treat yourself and everyone else to some honesty in between? Wouldn’t it be cool if every photo of an incredibly indulgent ice cream sundae was followed up by an honest post detailing the mental health struggles, or tough week with the kids/at work that led up to it? Food for thought…

Upon re-reading this post, I noticed the frequency of elipses (aka dot dot dot …), the “hmm…”s and the “I don’t have all the answers.” And I kind of like it that way. That’s not why I started a blog.

I also didn’t start this blog to pretend like I’ve got it all figured out, or to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do.

I started this blog to start conversations (both online and in real life). To get people thinking. To share my story in the hopes that it might inspire you to share yours. My favourite stories are the ones that are “to be continued…” so it is my hope that, after reading this, you will keep treating yoself, but also stop and think, and keep up the conversation…

 

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