I’m a sugar addict.
I assume I have been since my first taste of apple juice as a kid.
And I’m still a sugar addict almost thirty-three years later.
Is it because I haven’t hit rock bottom yet or found my moment of truth?
In other words, where’s my damn tipping point?
The sad part is it may never come. It was a major goal to defeat this addiction last year but I didn’t make progress. It’s perhaps my biggest goal in 2012 but, based on events just in the past month, I have a loooong way to go.
Pity for me a few weeks ago at a friendly gathering would have been appropriate. I downed six Rice Krispy bars, five cookies, a boatload of fruit (more good sugar), a few peanut butter brownie contraptions…and this was before I got home.
At home, I ate one (or more) of just about everything containing sugar from the cupboards and fridge. Once the sugar genie is out, it doesn’t go back until the next day.
After my finest sugar binge since my Bar Mitzvah – when I ate an entire cheesecake in about three hours – I was expecting my tipping point.
But it didn’t come.
As I struggle to find mine or hopefully avoid it, I’d like to help you find yours before it occurs and assist in avoiding it.
There are few preconditions to leading an optimal life of simplicity and organization. Avoiding damaging tipping points is definitely one.
Your confidence, respect, happiness, and health are all at risk.
Identifying Tipping Points
The problem with tipping points is that they’re more likely to trigger a downward spiral than a triumphant ascent. For every one that sparks a personal renaissance, many more ignite a brutal inferno.
So the first step of overcoming tipping points is to identify one.
I identified one, my video game addiction, but it took two decades to overcome. This means detection is not enough, but solving a problem only starts when its existence is recognized.
Here are some steps to complete the identification process. Actually get out your notepad or your word processor and write/type notes as you go. You’ll need it for the second and more important step.
- Define what a toxic personal environment feels like to you. For example, mine would be one that triggers unhealthy thoughts and forces destructive acts to others or myself. Then assess aspects of your life (e.g., eating, relationships, money, possessions) and determine if any meet the toxic criteria.
- Describe where and when you rapidly move from equilibrium to a destabilized state. Rapid is the key here. You might have hours of balance driving to your in-laws. But once that front door swings open, all bets are off (this is hypothetical Harry and Joyce…I love you both). Find similar circumstances that resonate with you.
- Ask your friends and family for their brutal honesty in pointing out your past tipping points and ones whose effects persist. This is the hardest but most valuable step. Make sure to thank them and create an open, safe environment before the can of worms is cracked open.
Head straight for the second step armed with your newfound awareness.
Isolating the Trigger(s)…Before You Tip
Adding a small amount of weight to a balanced object can cause it to suddenly topple. That’s why they call it a tipping point.
We need to see those pressures in advance so we can properly side step them. I’ll talk about more comprehensive isolation of triggers in the future so consider this a start.
- Reckless Behavior. An uncontrolled shopping spree, sugar binge, self-punishment, or denial of basic needs are all triggers for a tipping point. In simple terms, it’s any time you feel powerless to stop the train from hitting you. What do your moments of despair look like? Write them down.
- Stress. Do you get a headache, a cranky stomach, insomnia, lack of motivation, twitchiness, poor eating habits, a desire to drink or smoke away a problem, or withdraw socially? Each of these can be a trigger for a tipping point. Having warning signs means it’s time to engage the defense system and develop the freedom to say no.
- Paralysis. When doodie hits the fan, fight or flight are not the only options. Paralysis can disable them both. What causes you to shut down? Make it a goal to isolate the triggers that paralyze and do anything necessary to avoid those situations. The inability to take action or make a decision is often worse than a bad one.
Bottom line: If you were physically threatened, you’d defend yourself, right? What if you were threatening yourself with physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual harm?
It would be time to find someone or something to be your personal defense system. Developing a simple, external personal defense system is the third and final step. One I’ll have to save for another time.
Of the lessons I learned in college, one has stuck with me longer than most others. Work tirelessly to make sure things don’t get worse and then use your remaining resources to make things better.
We can’t fully liberate our time, money, and talent when we’re always one tipping point away from disaster. Likewise, you can’t harness your energy on simplifying and organizing when most is spent dodging icebergs in a rocky ocean.
We’ll never completely remove the danger of tipping points.
But identifying them and isolating triggers frees us to concentrate on other matters. You know, matters like leading a simplified, organized, and money wise existence.
What tipping point did you recently reach and what happened? Or what tipping point do you see on the horizon? Leave a comment – even a brief one – and let us know.