Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Decisions

When I was a little kid, my mother was pretty fanatical about religion. I've mentioned this before; in fact, when I became a teen, I was even *more* fanatical about it than my mother was, spending a huge amount of my time in religious study and church activities. Not that there's anything wrong with wrapping your life around that stuff, if it works for you. My experience was not in a mainstream religion, though. I doubt many readers have had to go through some of the things I did as a small child. But I won't go into that right now.

There is something I learned from religion... not only from THAT religion, but also for the slightly more 'normal' religion I chose as an adult. It's about decisions.

During all of my young years, I was taught that I should wait until I am married to have sex. (Great plan, BTW. I hope my kids follow this principle!) Adults talked to me about the temptations I would face among my non-believing peers; it seems that the whole world was filled with people who didn't have the same morals standards that I had. I was warned that there would be pressures from boys, men, and even other girls to just "give in" and have sex.

"You will if you love me."
"Everyone is doing it!"
"You are missing out!"
"You're a prude."
"It feels so good!"
and my favorite from the aroused teen boys, "But I am in pain and I need a release!"

I was ready for all their arguments. I knew what I wanted: to be a virgin on my wedding night. And NO ONE was going to stop me from reaching that goal. It was important to me.

Same thing with drugs. I knew I would be pressured to try things in high school, but I was not going to do those kinds of things. Drugs did not fit in with the life I wanted for myself. So no drugs for me.

The thing that was the most helpful to me as a young person was this advice:
"Just make up your mind ahead of time what your boundaries are. Don't wait for a situation to arise and THEN try to decide what you are going to do. Decide NOW, and then the rest is simple."

Oh so true.

Because I decided I was not taking my pants down for ANYONE but my husband, I did not have to worry and try to decide what I would do each time a boy pressured me to let him touch me.

Because I decided I was not going to touch ANY boy or man except my husband, I did not feel confused and waver each time a boy tried to get me into his bedroom and ask me to do things to him.

Because I decided I was NEVER going to use drugs, there was no instant decision to make every time a peer offered me a toke or a pill or a sniff.

I decided ahead of time where my boundaries were, so that in any given situation I could not be surprised or cajoled into doing something that was against my morals.

This really works well for eating habits, too. You can decide NOW what you will or will not do in regard to eating. Is Halloween candy a problem for you? Decide NOW what you will do about it.

"I will buy stickers or tattoos to hand out on Halloween instead of candy."

Then, when you are in the store and there is a sale on Halloween candy, you won't have to think about it. The decision is already made.

Are Christmas cookies a problem for you?

"I will give any gifts of Christmas cookie to my neighbors and I will give myself a delicious pomegranate instead."

Then, when someone gives you a plate of cookies, you can just re-gift them to the neighbor without even considering whether to eat one.

Just like my decision to NOT eat fast food. I made that DECISION. It was not something I am going to "try" or "see how I feel" about it. It is my decision. So now I do not have to think about it every time I drive past McDonald's, Burger King, and Arby's. I already decided.

Making one decision ahead of time is so much easier than making 50 different little decisions on every occasion that the issue arises. I think this applies to a lot of things: exercise, bedtime, relationship boundaries. What can you do to cut back on the number of decisions you make? Is there ONE decision you can make that, once made, will simplify your other choices?

Making those decisions as a kid served me well. I was a virgin when I got married at age 20, and I never tried drugs. Goals are easier to meet when boundaries are decided ahead of time.

Tomorrow is a new month. I can hardly believe it. I am making the most of this last day of September, and looking forward to a new month to keep working my goals.

19 comments:

Meg said...

That's a great lesson to take away! I'm going to try to use that advice in the future, I just wish I was more able to stick to my decisions (like "I am going to the gym today") after life interferes!

Diana said...

That definitely makes sense.

I love reading your words, Lyn. I think this is the first time I'm commenting but I've been reading for a long time and I have to say, this is one of my favorite blogs. I really admire you. :)

I also can't believe that tomorrow is already October. It's going by so fast.

Lorie said...

Great post and so true!!

bbubblyb said...

I know the year has flown by.

I call "decisions" my "rules" and I totally agree with all you said about them helping so much more if made ahead of time. I really try hard to follow my own rules too. I think it's easier to break your own rules so I really try hard to be tough with myself.

Good post. Hope you have a great October.

Tatulah said...

I think this is a great post. I really agree with the logic and am going to try it. Woot-woot.

Hillary said...

This is a great mantra to keep repeating: NOT AN OPTION, NOT A PROBLEM. It's already a 'NO'. You don't even have to consider it.

Shelley said...

Great post, Lyn! This worked great for me once I decided "no baked goods" - I should look if there are other things I can apply what you said to.

Diane, Fit to the Finish said...

It really has gone by so fast. Great post.

South Beach Steve said...

It is amazing how easy it is once we make the decision we are going to do it, whatever it is.

Vickie said...

You write a lot of good ones and this is among the best.

This practice is empowering and (I think) very low stress.

Think how much easier this philosophy makes eating - if one is making decisions at the grocery store. And only bringing the 'decided on' food into the house.

Think how much easier this makes over spending - if $$$ decisions are made in advance.

Think how much easier it would be for people that over commit themselves (the 'can't say no' people) if they are deciding in advance how to spend their 'time' resources.

This is a really well thought out post. I love all the examples that you gave. I will be thinking a lot about all that you said. It applies to all of us and our children and extended families.

Melissa Venable said...

Great lesson! I was also in church bigtime growing up & was given the same advice. Thanks for showing me it could work with my eating habits, too! I never thought of it like that!

Priroda said...

I would love to follow your blog but I can't find the "follow" button on your page.

45+ and Aspiring said...

One trick I've used in the past that helps me is to say to myself when I see food (like on the counter at work), "That is not for me."

Hang in there!

Melissa said...

You are so right. Once you decide to make a decision and stick to it, then it make things so much easier!

lyricgirl said...

Love this post! This is how I live my live. I love my food boundaries. It's a joy not having to ask myself "why did you eat that" Good for you.

Kim's (Girl Who Clicked) Fat Loss Blog said...

Fantastic advice. Will remember to use to pass to my kids, esp on the drugs and smoking etc. Good on you for deciding "no" to McDs etc, "yes" to life! I find it is so much easier when you are black and white, not shades of grey with these things. As was said by Yoda in Star Wars " do not try, only do". "Try" means we might not do it. We need to say we WILL do it (and decide that course of action ahead of time as you suggest), not "try". Great blog!

Hanlie said...

Great post! I agree with you... when you've set the boundaries, you don't have to white-knuckle every day.

Fat4Now said...

Great Post :)

Christina said...

I decided not to get anything out of the vending machine at work - EVER. That's a big deal.