Do you find being virtuous all the time a bit of a struggle as well?
You know what I mean; I can work really hard for a while, maybe get up early and do all my creative thinking, drink lots of water and get plenty of exercise, eat my greens and watch worthy documentaries on TV.
But, let’s face it, being good all the time is, well, just a bit boring.
You know what?
Sometimes I like to go to bed far too late, sometimes I like to drink just a bit too much the night before I have to get up for work. And sometimes I just can’t be arsed to get up off the sofa to go and do any exercise at all.
Sometimes another piece a cake is just what the doctor ordered. And Sometimes I can’t be bothered to plan my day out optimise my time; count my steps and look on the bright side of life like some sort of over eager puppy.
7 Ways to Release Your Inner Rebel
Yes, I generally want to be like the super keen pupil and sit at the front of the class.
Fulfilling my potential, my hand enthusiastically in the air all the time answering questions. Looking for extension tasks, over fulfilling on my homework and sitting there in my freshly laundered school uniform with my tie all done up straight.
But sometimes it’s just a lot more damn fun to be sniggering at the back of the class, ink all over my fingers with the promise of illicitly breaking some fundamental school rules behind the bike sheds at break time to look forward to.
Why would I want to stay on the rails when going off them is so much more fun!
Don’t deny it, you know exactly what I mean! It’s human nature to rile against what we know we should be doing for what we would really like to be doing.
But, just because you sometimes go off track, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be a success. In fact, sometimes it’s good to break all the rules and it can actually be quite empowering.
So, how do you balance the ying and the yang and make the devil inside you work to your advantage?
1. Realise that Success & Happiness Are Over Rated
We are simply not going to be successful and happy all the time and in everything we do. Success is an over egged pudding that’s forced down our throats at every turn but it’s not real life. Real life isn’t like the adverts and we are all, without exception, messy, flawed and fundamentally chaotic.
This is a good thing because when you do mess up, you’re miserable or you have a down day when you really can’t be bothered, then it puts the good days in context. If you know and accept what your bad days feel like then you can see your good days as successes.
It’s all relative and having a lower and realistic base line can be a positive thing.
Having low expectations of life might seem a bit defeatist but the inspirational life style we are all being peddled in the media is an impossible pipe dream. Trying to live at this level just makes you feel inadequate and unhappy.
If we can accept a lower starting point then, when things are good, we stand a chance of feeling genuine success and achievement.
2. Don’t Feel Unnecessary Guilt
Don’t feel unnecessary guilt when you come off the rails, just give yourself a break.
As long as you’re behaving within the boundaries of being a reasonable and considerate human being then you should be kind to yourself.
If you break your diet, don’t work a full day, stay out too late, party until the small hours and come home worse for wear then so what? You’re just being human. We all need play time and play time shouldn’t have guilt attached to it.
Sometimes you just need to break free and unleash your wild side.
3.When the Urge to Rebel Kicks in, Rather than Fighting it, Just Go with the Flow
Often having a complete “blow out” resets your clock or re-calibrates your baseline. Frequently, after you have completely let everything go for a while, it can re-energise you when you do get back on track and lead to a period of genuine creativity and productivity.
It can also be followed by a period where you are able to think more clearly and make more balanced decisions. It’s rather like being able to see the wood for the trees in that letting go allows you to throw all of the balls up in the air and watch them land in a slightly new and refreshing manner.
How Do You Attain this State?
To attain this state you really do have to completely clear your mind for a number of hours and binge watch your favourite series, stay up all night partying or get away from your brain in some other complete way.
Often it requires disrupting your sleep pattern and then a short period of readjustment but it’s a bit like taking your brain away on holiday. It’s a complete escape from the minutiae detail of the every day and often allows you to readjust and see things more clearly, in context and with greater objectivity when you do come back.
4. Try Scheduling a Cheat Day
Schedule cheat days or down day once a week or once a month.
Have a day where you literally let it all hang out and indulge yourself as much as you can manage. This will have the advantage of making your “time outs” more predictable and less disruptive. Also, conversely, you might find that the novelty slightly wears off and they become less intense over time.
Sometimes, the only way to get rid of a craving is to over indulge in it until you can’t face it any more and by scheduling and entertaining your vices you might well find that the sting is taken out of the tail of your desire.
Learning to recognise your need for freedom is a good thing; and if you know that you have created the opportunity in the near future for a “brain holiday”. Then it will make the present all the more manageable.
We are all very good at promising ourselves rewards and following the carrot on the end of the stick. If we know that we are going to treat ourselves and “be bad” at the weekend it helps us stay on the rails and to get through the week.
It’s a common and well-tried formula that has stood the test of time for a reason.
However, the problem today is that our working lives are so much more fragmented and there often isn’t a designated weekend where we can let our hair down.
Shift workers may work for days on end without a proper break. Many of us work at more than one job and don’t get a weekend. And home workers struggle with switching off from work and can feel as though they are at work 24/7.
Why Should You Take Regular Breaks?
For all of us, it’s vital that we have regular breaks, not only from work but also from being fantastic. It’s important to be a bit c*** sometimes. We need the downtime, the recovery time and also the capacity to realise that being a bit rubbish can be, in the broad realm of things, good for us.
Now, despite eulogising with an almost evangelic zeal about the virtues of being bad it’s important to realise that there has to be a balance. If you can control the devil inside and allow him freedom when it’s to your advantage then that is a good thing.
However, it’s all too easy to give in too frequently and, rather than enhancing your goodness the slippery slope will get steeper and you will be devoured by your own vice.
So, how do you keep things in balance and keep your out of control-ness under control?
5. Counter Your Bad Impulses with Positive Habits
By recognising and accepting that you will always have the impulse to go off the rails, possibly, at least in my case several times a day, then you are half way to being in charge of them.
You need to realise that most bad impulses are emotional and occur in the moment and that they are out trumped at every turn by good habits that were born out of clear and objective thinking.
Good habits are hard to break and you need to incorporate them into your daily routine so that they become part of your long term vision for your life. This might be regularly exercising or eating healthily, maintaining friendships, doing voluntary work or being creative for example.
These are all good things that, if deliberately and thoughtfully made into habits, will be extremely hard to break even when you are sorely tempted.
A habit is carried through with emotional objectivity, it just happens, it is because it is and that’s the end of it. This is immensely powerful if it’s a positive and life enhancing habit.
A short term emotional impulse that’s there purely for it’s own gratification will have an extremely hard time breaking a strong habit particularly if you know, as above, that there’s a safer and more appropriate space for that impulse to be indulged just around the corner.
6. Choose the Aspects of Your Life Where You Aren’t Going to Be Perfect
Give yourself the permission to mess up.
It’s impossible to give 100% of yourself to every aspect of your life 100% of the time. Life goes through seasons and sometimes you need to give one aspect more attention than another. You will just burn out and be completely unhappy if you aren’t sensitive to this and don’t allow yourself some time out.
Try to choose which aspects of your life you can be a bit slack at.
Where can you get away with doing the bare minimum without the impact being too great? If you can allow yourself to fail in some areas it will give you the energy and space to succeed in others.
In fact, in many aspects of your life, you don’t need to be brilliant – you only need to be good enough. It might be that you don’t bother doing much house work or washing your car. Or that you only give that committee that you sit on the bare minimum of your attention.
Perhaps you only just get away with preparing a rather shoddy presentation at work; if you can give yourself permission to do this and give into temptation in one area you then stand more chance of being a shining light in another. We only need to be good enough.
Winnicott even stated that we only need to be good enough parents. Perfection isn’t required and often being a bit rubbish can have it’s advantages.
7. Start Each Day As You Mean to Carry on
You will find that the first few hours of your day will often set the mood and the character of the day as a whole.
If you start by having a lie in, over indulging at breakfast time and watching a bit of TV then a day of laziness and low productivity will almost inevitably follow!
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly at a weekend but you need to be in control of your slothfulness!
You need to work out who’s in charge of the day from the outset. Is it you or your inner naughty voice!
If you start your day with the discipline of getting up just a little bit earlier than you desire. Maybe doing some exercise, planning or other focused activity I can almost guarantee that will be the mood of the day that will continue. It’s about making choices and taking control.
Being deliberate in your use of your self-discipline!
So, we all need some down time. We all need to let our hair down and to indulge ourselves once in a while, or even regularly; in order to keep our lives balanced and things in context.
The trouble is we are becoming conditioned to aspire to a level of perfection that it unattainable and unhealthy. In our desperate attempts to reach the bar, we’re feeling inadequate and guilty that we aren’t good enough.
The key is to sometimes give in, go and have a blowout. Have some play time and give your brain a holiday. If you can do this in a controlled and reasonable way you will find it to be energising and refreshing, instead of destructive.
It will give you a more balanced perspective; by lowering your level of expectation, just give you the freedom to be a little happier.
Go on, give yourself a break. You deserve it. Be kind to yourself, forgive yourself and have a little fun for a change!