How to Win: Your New vs Old Self
Often times, when I’m trying to make a change, I like to think that I’m playing a game – My Old and Impulsive Self vs. My New and Wise Self.
As such, there are times when my old self wins. This is where I will sleep in when I should wake up early or stay up too late doing things that I know I don’t need to be doing (binge watching TV), which then goes and messes up my next day.
Other times, my new self wins. This is where, despite the fatigue, I get up and do the things I want to do, meal prep and in general, stay the course for what I know is better long-term for me.
You might have the same battle.
Often times it feels like we’re making a choice – either we’re having fun OR we’re doing something that is fulfilling for the long-term.
The goal is to remove the OR and replace it with an AND: To both have fun AND do something that is fulfilling for the long-term.
“New and Wise” Self and “Old and Impulsive” Self
Neither self is necessarily wrong, because they’re both YOU – but one is generally trying to ensure you’re having a good time in the short-term, and the other is trying to better your life for the long-term.
Because both of them are trying to make your life better, there’s no need to beat one up if he/she happens to win a couple of rounds.
As long as you’re alive, you have both of them to contend with. It is literally human nature (Thinking Fast and Slow).
The thing is, often times in this game, there’s a round where the new self is kicking some ass! He’s meal prepping, going to bed on time, waking up early enough to workout, being more productive with work, spending time with friends and family without alcohol, while still having time to focus on his hobbies.
Life is fucking great. He doesn’t want or need to “escape” from reality, because he’s enjoying the fuck out of his life.
Other times, the old self kicks some ass! He’s like, “Fuck…this is stressful. Give me a drink.” That leads to going a bit wild, having fun with friends (this time with alcohol) and having that grilled cheese with bacon and maple syrup in it (damn you Melt Shop!).
Often times, if the old self wins a round, we beat ourselves up. But we don’t need to.
Instead, we should try and get a better understanding of what’s driving the behavior.
There’s usually a reason – or twenty – that is driving the old and impulsive self’s behavior. It could be we genuinely find the activities fun. Or, it could be that we feel closer to people when we indulge/over-indulge with them.
I know I do.
Birthday parties, holidays, etc are all examples of when we indulge in things in order to celebrate being around people we care about.
Those old and impulsive habits are serving a purpose in your life. Understanding those reasons, can start to illuminate a way to get those rewards (having fun, feeling close to those you care about, etc) while staying healthy.
In much the same way that we should find what we’re looking for when we engage in the old and impulsive self’s behavior, we should also understand what is driving our new and wise self’s behavior.
Remember How You Won
1 – What happened during those times when the New Self won?
What went right?
What small changes in decisions (the turning points in your decision making process) did you make that allowed your New Self to gain the upper hand?
2 – And conversely, what happened, when your old self roared its pretty little head and said, “Just one more drink,” and you decided that’s a GREAT idea?
What small changes in decisions did you make that allowed your Old Self to gain the upper hand?
Remember, as long as you’re alive, you will have both of these selves within you and they both want to help you in different ways.
If you can understand the reasoning behind your “old and impulsive self” along with what allows your “new and wise self” to win more often, then you give yourself the gift of being able to control your whole self – and not just one part of yourself.
You stop fighting within and instead find solutions that can allow both of them to find what they’re looking for.
The “old and impulsive” self can have fun and feel included in the group while the “new and wise” self can make smart and healthy decisions that allows you to build a life that’s sustainable for the future.
The key to satisfying both your “Old and Impulsive” Self and your “New and Wise” Self is to:
A – Remember how your “new and wise” self won, when your “old and impulsive” self tried to derail it, but also…
B – What allowed your “old and impulsive” self to feel happy and connected to those you care about without derailing your progress?
Answer those questions and you’ll be well on your way to creating a fun AND fulfilling life.