In a world of infinite choice, "I don' wanna" can be an easy way out, but it doesn't always lead to happiness...
So the theory goes that everyone has an inner child. The part of you that loves new things, hates responsibility and always wants to go play. I've seen it called the Inner Brat, or Princess. Last week I became more aware of my own Inner Child, and realised that her name is Ingenua. What I also realised is that she has been in the driver's seat - or wrestling for it - for the past couple of years. And she has been saying the same thing the whole time:
"I don' wanna."
Okay, if we're not working ... clean my house?
Umm, make some lace?
"Too hard." (What!?)
Go for a walk?
How about some food? Food is good for you, you know...
How about getting out of bed?
"... go 'way."
Okay, what do we want to do, then?
"Sleep. And do puzzles, and play computer games and chat online with my friends. That's all."
And for a long while, I haven't had anything good to say back to her. This doesn't bode well for my future parenting skills.
Apparently the correct response (according to some) is "It's okay, there's no reason to get upset! I love you ... but we're going to do this now. Trust me, it'll be fun, and it won't take long." This has never worked for me. I've been told that I lack discipline, that I lack initiative, that I need to find more motivation. My other inner voices ask me why I can't deal with responsibility, why I'm not doing things that are good for me, what's wrong with developing good habits, do I not feel that I deserve to be happy? My psychiatrist has struggled to make me see what I'm thinking at those times, but the only voice I can hear is Ingenua's constant whimper ... "I don' wanna."
But suddenly last week, when charity:water reached a milestone of $US2 million in donations, she actually smiled! Because $1 of that had come from me as part of the Cakewrecks campaign. And some part of me looked at Ingenua and said, "You like helping people, don't you?" And she said "Yes..."
So we made a bargain, Ingenua and I and Smith. I want to develop enough good habits to learn to take care of myself ... but Ingenua's getting in the way. From now on, whenever she says "I don'wanna" to something that's good for me, I'm going to say "Well, I hear you. But it's good for you, and if you do it anyway, Smith and I will donate 5c to charity:water." It's the equivalent of the "people are starving in Africa" response - one person in eight does not have access to clean drinking water. (Smith's response was "Ooh, guilt!") What kind of motivation is that? ... well, we'll see.
My very first goal is to reach $7.95, the equivalent of the new puzzle book I just bought but haven't yet opened. After that, well, $20 will buy one person clean water for 20 years. And right now, as of publishing this post on day four of this deal, I'm up to $1.80. (Details to follow!)
Wish me luck...