There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza…
It’s so weird how life can bring up the same old subjects over and over. Do you ever feel like you are living in a Bill Murray Groundhog day? The same old problems and issues just keep popping up in slightly different forms. I had a discussion with someone I really care about recently where I wanted to offer some advice, but I knew the way the discussion was going. We were going to circle the same old problem with the same old defensive emotional response. Have you ever tried to give advice to a friend or family member because you care deeply about the person, but you know that it is futile to offer the solutions that won’t be implemented? Let me move on to the screenplay.
Friend: I feel like crap today. I’m depressed.
You: Maybe you should not have stayed up until 3AM last night?!
Friend: Well, you know, I can’t go to sleep well. I just toss and turn if I go to bed on time.
You: Probably would be easier to sleep if you got some exercise during the day.
Friend: What are you talking about? I don’t have time to exercise! I had to run errands and work today!
You: If you get up a little earlier in the morning you will have time for errands, work, and exercise.
Friend: You know I can’t fall asleep. I just toss and turn.
The hole in the bucket is not just a disease or mental issue that exists in other people. This is an issue that we all face which I call the self-perpetuating cycle. There is some bad habit or addiction that each of us deals with that holds us back from reaching our goals and dreams. Some irritating obsession that is the biggest obstacle to the happiness that we imagine. Let me tell you a personal story so it does not seem like I’m just talking smack about my friends and family.
When I was eighteen I was going through an intense rebellious stage. I was mad at teachers, parents, and society. I’m still dealing with these feelings to this day to be totally honest. I started experimenting with alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis. Over the years, I have struggled with when is the right time to use these type of recreational activities. Let’s just say there’s been plenty of times where I did not make the right decisions. One thing I have learned though is the importance of honesty with myself.
Just last year I was going through a particularly tough time for reasons I won’t get into here. I decided it was time to go pick up some tobacco. I got back into the habit of smoking. At first, it was just at night before bed. Then it crept into after meals. My mind rationalized and justified multiple reasons why smoking tobacco was a good thing to do. I came up with excuses to explain why I needed the tobacco or why it was helping my situation. Deep down I knew why I quit smoking tobacco years before. It makes me feel like crap and I get into a bad habit that takes over my mind and my cycle of thought. The negative cycles that get set up in the mind for an obsession or bad habit then create their own justifications. My wacky mind will even go as far as creating reasons to get depressed so more medicine is required. Do you know what I am talking about?
It could be that you are someone who has never dealt with addiction. If so, you don’t need to read this. For the rest, let’s discuss the solution to the self-perpetuating cycle. Be honest with yourself. This is the path to freedom. The mistake may happen again, but if you are prepared with the cold truth you will be better prepared for the solution.
My personal realization is that I can’t buy tobacco. I’ll smoke the hell out of it until I’m sick and my throat hurts. If I am in a bad spot emotionally and I feel like doing it, I just know now what will happen. I’ll buy a ten to fourteen dollar bag of tobacco, then I’ll throw it away within three days before things get worse. Why waste fifteen dollars? It has become much easier to say no because I have become more honest with myself about the truth of the situation.
Now that I am writing about my personal story of making a stupid mistake over and over I am a bit embarrassed. However, I doubt I will ever make that mistake again. It will be impossible to trick myself again now that I have publically been honest with myself. Can you defeat your self-perpetuating cycle?
There are many more tactics and solutions that go along with fixing the hole in the bucket. Get a new bucket, for instance. Start fresh with new habits that are healthier. Get help from professionals or people that have dealt with similar issues. Incrementally wean yourself from your bad habit. Meditate. Exercise. Find an accountability partner.
There are many tools and options to change habits. In my experience, none of them will work until you are sincerely ready. Total commitment to brutal honesty about the problem is the primary solution.
Is there a hole in your bucket?