The Benefits of a Guilty Pleasure
Summary: _Life is meant to be enjoyed, so enjoy things in moderation.
But, really, you’re going to learn how to enjoy them without indulging or losing interest._
Let’s start with a story:
When I first got myself together, my very best friend and next door neighbor came home from a stint in a rehabilitation center, and I said, “Look, unless you’re sober, I can’t hang out with you.”
He said he was sober, and he was trying to be, but he was lying about it. When I found out he was lying about it, I distanced myself. In fact, he was one of the few people that didn’t get a call from me before I left to get help. I made a phone call to just about everybody in my life and said, I will no longer see you again, period. I couldn’t even take the risk of being around him because I didn’t have control of myself, so I had to create a safety net.
He told me he was going to stop, and he was the only one who told me that. So when he didn’t, that hurt, and a good couple of years went by. It was tough, because all my other friends were talking to him. In fact, a lot of my old friends were all together, and I had to make new friends because I was doing something for myself.
But I still wasn’t mature enough at 18 years old not to feel bad that I was kind of the bad guy when everybody else was hurting themselves. But I held space, and I didn’t call, didn’t speak to him.
One day, three years later, I got a phone call from him and it was, I need help. And he cried and he cried. And he thanked me for being the only true friend he had because I was the only one who didn’t talk to him. Everybody who he talked to and supported him was just enabling him. And I was the only one who loved him enough to be willing to end the relationship.
And, wow, that was a beautiful and powerful thing. So he was somebody who crossed the line, and so was I. And so we understood that danger. And when the pain got big enough, he realized that I had done him a solid favor by pulling away.
The irony of this story is that when he first found out I was doing drugs, he came to my house and literally beat me up. We went downstairs to shoot some pool. And then he asked me if I was doing drugs, and I lied and said no. And when it was my turn to shoot pool, he came behind me and slugged me in the arm. I felt like my arm nearly fell off, and then he wrestled me down. He started choking me and beating me, telling me, “I’m gonna kill you if you ever do drugs again.”.
Of course, I kept taking drugs for months. keeping it a secret. He then came over and said, “Are you doing drugs?” And I said no, and he said, “Well, that’s too bad because I started. I started playing around and smoking weed.” We started to talk about what this was going to be like.
We would just do it once in a while, and we would just do it together. And we set all these parameters and we broke them as fast as we put them together, and there was nobody around to give us help. I mean, there were parents trying to help us, but we were encouraging each other, and breaking our rules, and we didn’t know what to do. Eventually, we both turned into addicts, ruining our lives. Both of us hurt a lot of people. Thank God I didn’t do anything bad enough or hurt anybody too bad.
And so in many ways this story is a perfect example of the difference between a guilty pleasure and a vice or addiction. A vice is something you can’t control, whereas a guilty pleasure is something you can do in moderation.
So the hope is that you find a healthy relationship to the right “guilty pleasures” that allow you to engage your senses and inner child, while staying in control.
Is there a value in having a guilty pleasure?
Yes. If it’s only superficially “guilty” and is also something in moderation, where you have control over it. It’s in creating healthy relationships. So the value is when you create, for example, a healthy relationship with ice cream.
There’s so much value in that because you do have senses. And to confine them is restrictive and can have its own problems. When you restrict, you confine, and then you get rebellion, which is the opposite of control. Because breaking overly confining restrictions comes out in very destructive ways. This is the great value in finding healthy ways to indulge your senses. By letting the senses do what they want to do – in a controlled fashion – you’re giving room for the child to live in you.
Your inner child is a source of energy and joy, so giving that room for expression brings a sense of enjoyment. It could be an activity. It could be food. It could be a drink. It could be a game. It could be TV. But the idea is to take that and give it a proper time and place, and then walk away from it. Your mind and child are kind of one and the same in a lot of ways, so you let them have their appropriate playtime, then you’re bringing the adult along and saying, Ok, that’s enough. That’s the part that brings it under control. That’s the difference between a guilty pleasure and a vice – whether that control is present and whether the indulgence is healthy or not.
So this whole topic is about being able to live in moderation. You might say to yourself, It would be nice to have Rice Krispy treats tonight. Absolutely.
Whereas if you feel that you can’t function unless you have your treats or wine or smoke or a joint, that’s not an indulgence – that’s an absence of control and self-sufficiency and intellect. The whole point is you have to gauge if you’re feeling pressure inside of you. That’s more of a vice than it is a guilty pleasure. And I think that’s the determining factor.
When should one not give in to their guilty pleasures?
Just how I describe it: If you feel pressure, it’s not good. Moderation simply means I can take it or leave it, and when I take it, I can control the dosage.
And that’s the whole thing. It’s a guilty pleasure. It’s a big name for something that should simply be called, enjoying the buffet of life. There’s a buffet of different things to try and to experience. And so go and enjoy.
But understand, there’s always risks involved when you’re doing any kind of indulgence in pleasure. In today’s podcast, I discuss how you can tell when a guilty pleasure is turning into a vice. And in my free online video course The Emotional Survival Kit, I share the tool you need to use every day to keep yourself from getting addicted. It is called your intellect.
But you got this, and we got this! Be in control of your impulses, and you are in control of your life!
We at the Emotional Survival Kit are here for you, and together we don’t just survive, we thrive!
The Emotional Survival Kit is a FREE online training that will show you:
How to calm yourself when you are Freaking Out (or about to.)
How to talk to Children during a Crisis
How to deal with sickness and Loss.
How to be part of the Solution in a crisis.