Budgeting Emotions

"You have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce" - mug from my best gal pal, Doni

I recently had the MOST adult thought:

What if, instead of giving into unhealthy impulses, I replaced those behaviors with actually good choices?

IKR! Being 30 is truly as good as they say it is.

I've done this in certain areas of my life such as ditching expensive restaurant lunch options for a delicious and inexpensive packed lunch. Turns out, I'm very good at packing my lunch. My mom, a second grade teacher and my first feminist role model, made me start packing my own lunch in the second grade. I resented her for it at the time, thinking of the ten extra luxurious minutes my classmates had in bed that morning, knowing their parent had packed their lunch for them. During lunch they would complain about their sandwich and pretend to be embarrassed by the hand-written them a note scrawled on a napkin, to which I would scoff. Your privilege is showing, Amanda! I now thank my mom for that because she gave Baby Steen agency. In some way, I know it had to make me a better person.

I digress.

I have not, however, been successful in replacing unhealthy impulses in my emotional life. In some capacity, all of us are taught to budget our paychecks, our time, our calories, but never our emotional energy. I've been paying close attention to my impulses and brainstorming ways to undermine them over the past couple of days. Buckle up, cuz I'm gonna let you in to some of them.

My emotional kink, if you will, is breaking rules. I LOVE to break rules. I have always been an obedient suburban girl, and doing bad things just gets me GOING. In the past, my unhealthy impulses to break rules have encouraged me to be destructive by lying to friends, cheating on partners, and consuming an unreasonable amount of snacks. However, since this seems to be the norm for me now, the biggest rule breaking of them all would be replacing those impulses with ACTUALLY GOOD BEHAVIORS!

Did I just break your brain? Cuz that happened to me when I realized this.

So... like all habit changing, this will have to start small and may take a long time. That, however, is not a deterrent for me. Life is so goddamn, almost dauntingly, long, babes. We have so many hours and so many decisions to make. The other day, I was feeling an impulse to "be a little bad," which is what I'm calling it now, and instead of lying to someone, cheating on my partner, or consuming an unholy amount of cheese, I drove over a small curb in the Whole Foods parking lot.

WATCH OUT, AMERICA. Here comes trouble! I will be reckless! I will be edgy! I WILL BREAK THE RULES! But only in ways that are non-destructive, non-problematic and green-lit by my therapist.

I'm staring at the mug with the Beyonce quote from the top of the page. It's on my work desk, and my lunch hour is almost up. It's staring back at me. It's reminding me of all of the wasted energy I gave to unimportant and destructive behaviors and thoughts. I'm ready to learn how to budget my emotional energy. I gave myself time to write this piece in between updating spreadsheets. My emotional brain is high-fiving my logical brain. Baby steps.

Time to get back to work.