Whatever your goals this year, you will fall off the horse at some point. Probably. Perhaps you already have.
If and when you do fall off, get back on it like nothing happened. Redraw. New point.
Because the temptation will be to purge the binge or binge the purge. But the binge-purge cycle is as dangerous as it is unproductive.
When you’ve been inconsistent with a behavior you want to instill, the socially-trained response (“instinct”) is to punish yourself by giving yourself more to do — stricter rules, extra work, “catch up” work. A bit of self-flagellation, you know. A nice crack of the old flagellum. WHAPEW!
Basically, you say to yourself “OK, I’ve been binging on bad things for a while now, so let me purge for a little while and THEN go back to a normal flatline”.
But that just feeds the cycle. Because, you see, purging is just another form of binging. Purging is just binging on good. Which seems like a good enough idea, certainly the intent behind it is good, but the effect is to teach yourself that:
“Binging is how we solve problems”.
It’s kind of like racism. On the surface, white supremacists seem to hate darkies and Jews. But really what they’re saying is:
“Division, hate and violence is how we solve problems”.
So what happens is that white supremacists can end up scaring up, beating up and killing up almost as many white people (“race traitors”) as they do darkies and Juden and Irish and whomever the heck else. They even write books about crucifying “their own”. Their paradigm demands it. Any movement based on division, hate and violence tends to self-destruct in this way, because while its members may think that their hate has specificity, in truth they are operating under a more general principle that inevitably begins to dictate their actions and responses to anyone of any ethnicity in any adverse situation. 1
Similarly, binging and purging demands more binging and purging. Binge-purge is just a manifestation of a “binge meta-behavior”. 2
In fact, it’s more than a behavior — it’s a way of life. It’s almost like a conditioned reflex whereby as soon as you “hear the bell” of a certain type of situation, you almost unconsciously, involuntarily start binging and purging.
So we say: “one last purge(=’good’ binge), and then I’ll go back to flatline”. But flatline never comes. Just like the day you’re going to use all that cool stuff you have locked up in the attic…never comes.
Binge-purge, or, more accurately, “binge-binge” or “plus-binge-minus-binge” is like the Ring of Power in Lord of the Maori Actors with Ridiculously Manly Thighs and Dreadlocks. It cannot be used for good — at least not by you or me. It’s just that unwieldly. Once you pick it up and put it on, any valiant attempts to direct its power in space and time tend to fall flat.
Even using it against itself as some form of punishment, tends to fail. Generally speaking, the binge-binge cycle cannot be used to break itself any more than a tangled power cord can be used to untangle another tangled power cord. It cannot take you to your goals because the violence of the cycle will destroy you before you reach them — maybe not the very first time, but somewhere along the way.
Large individual goals are only healthily reached by consistency over time. By habit. Really, the only way to teach yourself this gradual behavior is by engaging in it. You can’t get yourself to be gradual and go at a manageable pace by removing the privilege of moving at this pace as soon as you slip up. Accept the slip-up as a natural part of the process. The way to get over those violent pendulum movements is to stop hitting the pendulum so violently…get a hold on it and guide it gently.
You will probably run off course a little bit this year, at some point. But that doesn’t mean all is lost. Far from it. I hear aeroplanes spend the majority of their flying time technically off-course 3. They just correct quickly and often.
Redraw. Correct. New point. New day. New nano-action. Continue. Yes, it is that easy. Yes, you can let go of punishment and still excel — what, you think I got my cats to come to me when I call them by beating them over the head? “OI! I’M TALKING TO YOU, MAMMAL! LOOK ON MY WORKS, YE FELINE, AND DESPAIR!”. Naw, dude. They hate Shelley.
Be nice to yourself. When you fall, just get up and keep walking. Make small corrections if necessary, but emotionally, let it be like nothing the heck happened. Like you meant to do it. It’s not like you killed someone 4. Take the energy you were going to use for feeling guilty, and put it into moving forward.
- Verily, if you look at something like the two “World” Wars, what you see is essentially Western European slander, hatred and violence, which had been successfully exported worldwide in the form of colonialism, finally coming home to roost.
Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon was a similar deal: the Romans had tried to put a firewall around Rome proper — in fact, the whole Italian peninsula — essentially saying “aw’right, lads — we impose order through military conquest out there but not in ‘ere”.
It worked well enough for a while. Eventually, though, a Gaius called Caesar came along and was like: “Roman, puh-leeze! Screw that!”, because “military conquest is how we solve problems and impose order” was the real, core lesson of Roman politics. And the rest really is history. Live by the gladius, die by the gladius, if you will. Baseless Remarks About Complex Social Phenomena, baby…you know you loves it! ↩
- The more I make up these words, the more I start sounding like Bucky Fuller — you know, insightful, but obviously self-educated because he uses all these neologisms and compound words that aren’t found anywhere in mainstream academic literature. Maybe I should go to grad school and finally earn my professors’ unconditional love and respect…’Fill that surrogate dad-sized hole in my heart…
You’re all: “Khatz, you’re nowhere near as cool as Bucky Fuller”. Well…just you wait until I have a comeback for that.
Where was I…
Oh yeah. ↩
- is this true? Any experts care to answer? ↩
- right?…right? wait, what? oh my…OK…No that’s NOT okay! ↩