Are you a moderator or an abstainer?

I’ve been thinking about the whole Moderator vs. Abstainer thing. Is it just another label, or is knowing which side you fall on useful? Could recognizing it help you become more productive? Happier?

I always thought I was a moderator because I can do things like eat 2 squares of a chocolate bar and save the rest (Crazy, I know).

However, if I’m honest with myself I approach most of my life with an all or nothing mindset. I’m in or out. Full steam ahead or… no steam. But I act like I’m great at moderation, and that’s what gets me into trouble.

I should be able to watch a couple YouTube videos while eating dinner then get back to studying. I should be able to text back Sarah without checking Instagram. 

Guess what? Doesn’t happen. Like, ever. If I open YouTube I will still be there two hours later, probably watching a grooming tutorial for the dog I don’t own. And I can’t even tell you how often I find myself 48 weeks deep in some meme account on Instagram… Sigh.

I keep doing the exact same thing, genuinely expecting a different outcome. Because, “You should be able to do this Kate!”

What if I stopped trying to fight it? Instead of putting all this energy towards finding a balance I’m not wired for, what if I set up my life to take advantage of my all or nothingness?

I mean, it seems kind of obvious now that I’m thinking about it…

Consider how this might apply to different areas of your life—diet, work, fitness habits, or even the way you spend money. For example, maybe you think you should be able to go to the mall without buying anything because Jane can do that so Hey! You can too right? You keep going to the mall every Friday after work, because “this time will be different!”, and every Friday you buy stuff you don’t need.

Hmmm… Maybe instead of trying so hard to change your reaction to the environment, you should just change your environment altogether. You’re not Jane, accept and move on AKA stop going to the mall every Friday.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Instead of trying to fix our weaknesses, what if we put that energy towards leveraging our strengths? 


P.S. In lieu of a somewhat-passably-relevant stock photo… Please enjoy this snap I took of cream puffs my Mum made last Christmas. I know, I’m sorry.

About the author

Kate Smalley

Kate is a marketer, maker, and freelancer living in Toronto. She works with small businesses to help them narrow in on their purpose, share their ideas, and tell their story.

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