• Sanjay Says
  • Posts
  • Sir, Step Away From the Self-Help Aisle

Sir, Step Away From the Self-Help Aisle

A tale of too much therapy and not enough chocolate

Photo of a resealable bag of candy

A magically resealable bag of Oh Henry chocolate bites, my nemesis - photo by author

During a therapy session a few months ago, I figured out why I crave sugar. A breakthrough! I immediately stopped ordering an apple fritter every time I got a coffee with my two creams and two sugars.

But I recently discovered resealable candy bags. Such an efficient use of sugar. Even though I didn’t crave sugar anymore, I decided to reward innovation and bought a bag.

I know, I know, the best way to avoid eating dumb shit is to not have it around you. But a resealable bag of chocolate bites? I’ll just eat one, it’ll be fine. It’ll take care of my craving and then I won’t eat a whole bar some other time, amiright?

How many of these things equals one bar anyway? I’ve only had seven. They’re tiny. When I get to 12 pieces I feel mildly sick.

What I need now is a Coke Zero. That’ll settle my stomach. I cured my Coke cravings a few months ago while meditating, surely a single mini-bottle isn’t a relapse, right?

“Hello again!” says the cheery gas station convenience store attendant when I return to the crime scene.

I refuse to make eye contact.

I go to the back of the store and I’m dismayed to find they only have the 500 mL bottles, not the 250 mL bottles that allow me to feel good about myself while still experiencing that sweet sweet artificial flavour. I return to the counter and the attendant cheerily informs me, “Two for five dollars sir!” Son of a bitch. The universe is taunting me.

I exit the store with two bottles of Coke and get in my car to drive home. There’s a McDonalds right next door. Maybe I can be a considerate husband and grab a bite at the drive through, save my wife making me dinner when I get home. There’s no danger here. During a psychedelic session last year I figured out why I binge eat.

Creeping along in the drive through line, I started to have misgivings. McDonalds isn’t really healthy. Too late to get out of the line, but a few seconds later when the McDonald’s cashier asked if I’d like fries with that I resolve to ask for a salad next time.

Pulling into traffic there’s an immediate red light. I pull out my phone and I see my daughter’s first email in our new daily gratitude practice. I’m supposed to reply with my own email containing three items of gratitude. I put my Tesla in self-driving mode and start to type a response, quickly logging the things I’m grateful for that day:

  1. Re-sealable bags of candy.

  2. si;ldjg fkd

Fuck, the car jerked forward when the light changed and I hadn’t noticed.

I shouldn’t be texting and driving anyway. In therapy last year I figured out why I’m always trying to multi-task when driving or watching TV. It drives my wife crazy when I ask her to pause a show and recap the plot because I was busy playing Polytopia. Sometimes I miss having commercials.

Maybe I shouldn’t watch TV before bed at all. Last spring I ran a two week experiment in getting up at the same time every day and it improved the quality of my sleep as well as the duration. But then I stopped doing it. I don’t remember why.

I also found a couple of years ago that I had more energy when I ended my showers with a cold burst, but I stopped doing that after 30 days. The energy high was nice, but wore off after a while.

I keep discovering ways to make my life better, but why do I bother? Am I hardwired to be dissatisfied all the time? I have money. I have a great family and great friends. I don’t have six pack abs, but they’re on the way, or they were until the candy containers began retaliating.

A couple of months ago I seemed to have everything under control. I wasn’t drinking alcohol. I had drastically cut down on desserts. I was meditating. I had energy.

Now even though I’ve fallen off the wagon and am lying bleeding on the side of the road while eating a delicious chocolate bite, I can’t seem to bring myself to care. My life is still pretty great.

Mark Manson says we’re wired for negativity because we’re wired for survival. And Brianna Wiest says that everyone is programmed to have a set level of happiness they believe they deserve, and if things start going too well, they’ll self-sabotage to get back down to their set level. Is that what I’m doing?

As I enter the house and give my wife a hug, my son asks me if we can play a game on the Playstation. I say, “Sure”, but then his mom tells him he has to eat first. I head downstairs alone and am just starting a game of NHL 24 when I hear my wife yell down the stairs, “Come back up, there’s food for you too! Baked Salmon, it’s healthy.”

I take a shot on net, miss, and yell back, “I already ate!”

She asks, “You did? Why didn’t you call and tell me? I could have saved some time.”

I don’t bother explaining that I would have called if the french fries hadn’t spilled off the centre console and had me picking them off the floor the whole ride home. It’s OK, I only ate the ones that had fallen on other fries, not the ones touching the floor. I’m not an animal.

Still. Maybe I do have some bad habits. But I keep improving! I keep figuring things out! I run experiments! I’ve got mad insights!

Why do things get a little better and then go back to where they were? Why do I keep running experiments? When I look at my overall life, I’m 20 pounds lighter than when I got married. I have a couple of drinks a week instead of 9–10. I get 7 hours sleep a night, not the 5 hours I got during ten years of running audiobooks.com.

I meditate. I journal. I work out. I did none of these things even five years ago. I spend a lot more time with my family and my friends. I have better relationships with fewer people.

The biggest problem here might be that despite enormous improvement in my life in the past decade, I continue to think there’s a problem.

I’ve had a ton of improvement in my life through psychedelics and therapy, and maybe now I’m… good enough? What a terrifying thought. Time for some more self-sabotage.

I hope I remembered to re-seal the chocolate bites.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous feedback appreciated, what did you think of this post?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Join the conversation

or to participate.