You’re Doing it Wrong

The language of self-help has changed the way we speak to each other.

Adeline Dimond


John Biglin in a Single Scull, Thomas Eakins, 1873 | Metropolitan Museum of Art, Open Access Program

The other night I visited my mother at her assisted living facility. She rejected the dinner of corned beef and cabbage (too spicy), and I took it home in a styrofoam container. As I sat in traffic on the 10 freeway, I reached over with one hand and popped chunks of corned beef in my mouth. Then I did the same thing with the potatoes.

This did not align with my goals, one of which is to be less fat. But I was starving after a full day of work, taking my mom to the doctor, returning her to the facility, where small talk with the executive director almost killed me.

I wiped the grease on my pants and my raincoat. When I got home I tossed them in a pile of other clothes that are supposed to go to the dry cleaner, someday.

I didn’t tell anyone about this night. I knew if I did someone would inevitably lecture me that I should just keep a bag of unroasted, unsalted, organic almonds in the car!! For crazy moments like these! And I would want to slit that person’s throat.

People give me advice and I bristle, because I already know. I know about the fucking almonds. They know I know, but they can’t help themselves. They still have to give me a tiny lecture. This phenomenon is getting worse lately, at least for me, and I can’t figure out why.

There are two versions of this practice. This is the first one: 1) I do something stupid, 2) I tell my friend I did something stupid, not because I want to learn from the experience or get a lecture on how not to be stupid, but because I am seeking human connection in a brutal, violent, and terrifying world 3) my friend ignores my need for human connection and instead lectures me: Almonds! Micropsteps! Collagen! More protein! Sleep hygiene! Mouth taping! Boundaries! MANIFESTING!!

This is the second version: 1) I don’t say anything to my friend about anything; I definitely do not tell them about shoving fistfuls of meat in my mouth with one hand while driving with the other 2) they nonetheless identify a problem with me anyway— either something I’m doing wrong, or something inherently wrong with me, 3) same lecture as a above: Maximize profit! RADICAL SELF CARE! Magnesium!