Thursday, February 18, 2010
Self-Denial and Rewards or Deferred Gratification
"But I WANT it," a whiny cry heard by parents around the world, most especially in our very spoiled, self-indulgent nation, where well-meaning helicopter parents hover constantly, swooping in to the rescue, and to inadvertently ensure that every child does not learn self-denial, a foreign concept seemingly abolished soon after The Great Depression, giving birth to imaginary money in the form of credit cards and fake food disguised by alluring packaging. Lies, lies, lies.
All of society is now paying the price for folks having lived so long and so far above their means.
This self-indulgence cuts across everything. No one thinks about consequences or the far-reaching impact that each decision made today will have on one's future. That bugs me.
Deferred Gratification is easy, it's putting off something today that one knows will have a greater reward in the future. I'm absolutely unable to get this one fact through most of my children's mental processes.
Self-righteous? Me? Yeah. So what? It works for me.
I'm again grateful to my mother for instilling, for tattooing on our brains, that we should live beneath our means, she raised us like this, and it was my original goal to raise my entire family similarly, but I failed to factor in the Trauma Effect that so rules our lives.
Sniffing disdainfully at me while they were teenagers, shunning Food Bank rejects or yard sale finds in favor of informing me I must've been raised in backwards bywaters where ugly cousins married each other, only to later call and email me with items they'd like for me to search out for them at yard sales. Yeah buddy, when it's your dollar versus mine...
But I'm glad to do it for them as it indicates emotional growth.
Many years later I have been suitably impressed with some money management skills eventually demonstrated by some home-buying children of mine, but those middle years used to be way more stressful than they should've been. I took it all too personally, was too intense, too sucked in, and uber-focused on issues that there was no way on earth to change at the time. I then didn't totally comprehend what delays were there in developmentally challenged children. My parenting back then was identical to how I'd parented Sarah when, in reality, many, many more adjustments would have to be made on my part.
I'm still blindly stumbling along, learning as I go, there's no handbook available for parenting children like mine.
Folks used to think I was parsimonious for not feeding my children either meat nor sodas, there's no candy sitting in bowls around here, until clearly the evidence available indicates the long-term and insidious damage these foods can do in one's body. My energy is in great part due to my own body not being poisoned nor polluted by that crap.
These things have worked for me, this living without indulging myself constantly with that which I can't afford anyway, and being fairly careful about the fuel going into my body.
Waiting for things makes it all the sweeter when obtained, the rewards are greater, the mental price exacted is lessened.
And truly I feel as if I have all I need or want. Did I just force myself to feel that way, or did self-denial play a part in later self-satisfaction? I read a great deal, whenever I can slip some reading time into my schedule, and I learned long ago that, for me, life was too short, or too demanding, to read fiction when there was so much else I needed to learn. I truly love to read the results of well-done studies, as fascinating to me as all get out.
I'd long ago have slipped into the sea of despair, y'all have watched me tread water there way too often, and I know I'll momentarily sink beneath the surface again, at times, but overall, books like Learned Optimism, Seven Habits, many time-management and personal finance books, or any of Norman Vincent Peale, Dennis Waitley or Napoleon Hill's staggeringly intense thoughts have imprinted themselves deeply into my psyche, giving me an inner strength that borders on an iron will. Lord knows, there'll still be plenty of down times to power myself through again.
I do lately feel very encouraged, standing on the cusp of finishing these many long years with children at home, the light at the end of the tunnel seems very bright to me now, I'm able to shrug off the arrows and slings I still receive from those who resent me for doing what the birth parents would not, could not do, and my excitement level over my own unlimited future thrills the peaturkey outta me in ways I cannot even begin to describe.
My heart pounds with excitement just at the thought of warmer temperatures, a single whiff of wood chips decaying triggers intense feelings of garden challenges and enjoyment, seeing more and more birds returning to the trees, and the imminent promise of my daffodils blooming any second now, overshadows my disgust at the smell and the sight of Wal-mart pastel purple candy Easter eggs that children will cram into their mouths, food dyes dripping down their chins, absorbing high-fructose corn syrup while their loving parents are blithely unaware of the hideous dangers they're allowing into their children.
I know most folks don't read my links, I know I do it more for me, documenting what I wanna refer back to, or to tell Sarah, but just as tobacco was once thought to be modern and socially acceptable, due to clever lobbying and advertising campaigns, so too has soda enjoyed an incredible whitewash of acceptability when in reality you might as well puff on lit dynamite to get the same devastating effect. Sarah's hero, Mark Bittman, wrote a very restrained piece on the crapola and I'd read this one last night in horror. Duh, that's why folks can't lose weight.
If you read no other link than these, please do so for your own health and energy levels.
Folks tell me they wanna be slim and energetic also, "Cindy, where do you get all that energy?" I'm asked constantly.
Simple answer, I eat right and it pays off. If that's self-denial, then there's a tremendously high reward in it.