It seems recently every time I walk in the room my partner hides their device, it’s like they don’t think I know they were holding it. They move quickly to hide it or place it down on the table, sometimes they quickly jump up and enter into conversation like to distract me, other times they lay down pretending to be asleep. I’m getting suspicious, what are they hiding from me, who are they talking to, is there someone else in their life?
Have you ever experienced this situation? Were you the person thinking those thoughts or were you the person hiding your guilty pleasure? Confession time for me, I was the person hiding the guilty pleasure. My guilty pleasure was the game Gummy Drop! Yes a game! Highly addictive game which if you let it, pulls you into a world of time wasting. When I first started playing my husband would make the occasional comment, oh you’re playing your game again. He never said anything more that that, never told me if he thought I was spending too much time with the game and not enough with him, never told me I should stop, however I started building guilt. Along with the guilt came secrecy, I didn’t want him to know how often I was playing, that when I said I was tired and went to bed early I would play the game. When he was out working on our farm, I would play the game. That I felt compelled to play and fought that desire more often than succumbed to it every day.
The guilt I carried had nothing to do with my husband but everything to do with me. I felt guilty about the time I was spending on the game, I felt guilty that I was hiding the fact I was playing. I remember thinking to myself on a few occasions, why do you feel the need to pretend you were reading a book instead of gaming? In the case of when I would hide it from my children, I rationalised this with me trying to be a good Mother and not encourage them to want to play. It came to a point when I decided to better understand what was happening, I didn’t like the feeling of guilt and knew I was the only one who could take back control.
So I did. I dug deep and realised I a few things:
• I was time gap filing
• I got a sense of joy from successfully navigating each level
• It was quick and required strategy, I liked it if I bet my other friends scores, yet was not disconcerted if I didn’t.
• Some levels were very challenging and took a number of attempts to complete, I liked my test of perseverance not letting it get the better of me.
• I didn’t like that I wasn’t using my time more productively
• I didn’t like how it demotivated me to achieve other things
• I didn’t like that I used it as a distraction allowing me to put off things I wanted to do
• I didn’t like the guilt I was feeling, that I was hiding what I was doing from those I loved
• I realised I was using the game as escapism from the reality of my life
Steps I took to change:
1. I talked to my husband about how I was truly feeling. This involved sharing how I truly felt leaving my corporate career. How it felt trying to get a job not getting interviews and when I did being rejected, the pressure I was feeling about our household needing income and that I was the one needing to bring that income in to the house, that we had to sell assets that meant a lot to us in order to continue to survive, that I couldn’t swap places with him and look after the farm while he worked because I didn’t have the skills he did and that I’m going to miss spending time with my boys when I get back working. This step was the most important as it allowed me to talk, and cry, and let it all out. It also let my husband talk, to share his views and encourage and reassure me.
2. I stopped having a device at the dining table during breakfast and dinner. I allowed myself time to play once at night, when our boys were in bed. If I did go to bed early and decide to play then I stopped hiding the fact when my husband walked in the room. I stopped enabling myself to feel guilty about deciding to play again.
3. I made a list of the things I wanted to do and I started working off that list to get them done. I experienced the joy of completion and progress. I enjoyed the fact I was no longer procrastinating and was now achieving once again.
4. I started feeling confident about myself again, believing that I am capable.
5. I started doing more, fitting more into my life, replacing gaming with tangible activities resulted in me being motivated once again.
I share this story with you all as there may be a time, or times, in your life where you too have experienced a guilty pleasure, one which has taken more out of your life than given to it, one that stops you from moving forward and keeps you feeling guilty which encourages you to delve into the pleasure more so you can feel that short lived joy. Yours may not be gaming, it could be eating, shopping, gambling, watching TV, smoking, drinking the list goes on and on. Whatever the pleasure we are feeling guilty of, that in itself is not the problem, just taking that away will not fix anything, in fact taking that approach would probably lead to us to taking up the guilty pleasure again and with greater intensity (and even more guilt).
To truly move on from a guilty pleasure you need to understand what is the driving force behind it.
Questions you could ask yourself:
1. What void are you trying to fill?
2. What feelings do you get from participating in your guilty pleasure?
3. Is there something you are trying to avoid?
4. When did you start feeling guilty?
5. Do you hide what you are doing from those closest to you? If so why? What are you afraid of?
6. If a friend came to you for advice about the same guilty pleasure, they described how they acted and felt, what advice would you give? What support would you offer?
7. If that friend who came to you for advice was you would the advice be the same? What is stopping you from taking your advice?
8. What is the best thing that would happen if you took your advice?
9. How would you feel if you no longer lived with guilt?
10. What can you do now to stop feeling guilty?
11. By whose measures are you living your life by? What is it you truly want for yourself?
Life is so much happier if we live it without any guilt. We owe it to ourselves to live as happily as possible. We do not know when our check out time will be, so to experience each day knowing we can confidently say if tomorrow never comes I have been the best me I could be, would be worth it don’t you think?