Gratification Now! A Self-Care Guide

Whenever I think about caring for oneself, I always remember the well-known, highly effective parenting technique that I utilized with my own kids, called Gratification Now. It works really well. And teaches wonderful, life-long lessons. The idea is that whenever you’re feeling depleted, low, sad, tired, hungry, or have a need of any kind, just give yourself what you need, whatever that may be, and do it without delay! Gratification Now! To accomplish this, you’ll need to start with good discipline – Think of yourself as the sergeant in charge of making yourself as whole and happy as can you can be, at every moment of the day. No need should go unanswered. So just feel your feels and then satisfy your needs, as quickly as possible! The result? Instant bliss!

Feeling run down? Tired? Like you’re dragging through your day? No problem! Get comfortable by placing yourself in a prone position, preferably face down, on a mattress, although the couch or the floor will do. (I do this for long stretches of time, several days if needed.) Work and/or exercise are the last thing you need! What you need is rest. So lie down immediately and don’t move. Don’t attempt to meditate in this state; it’s too taxing. Just lie there, being miserable. And don’t move a muscle. Feel like crying? Go for it. Kick those legs, but sloppily and without oomph. (Advanced technique: swaddle yourself in a big blanket.)

Can’t rest? Find that sleep won’t come, especially late at night? No problem – Stay awake, all night long, if that’s what you want. Don’t fight it. Instead initiate a long, difficult conversation with the sleeping person beside you. Or turn on the TV. Binge watch QVC until you can’t stand to hear the words “super-high thread count” or “micro fleece” another time. Order many, many (duplicate) items you don’t need.

Worried about money? Spending cash you don’t have? You need to let that stress go! Buy micro fleece and high-thread count sheets until your credit card is smoking. Retail therapy is a real thing, so indulge in it. Blow through your budget in a big, damn hurry. Don’t stop at QVC. There are lots of options on cable. Buy a new jean jacket and the glitter gun to decorate it with. Bedazzle the shit out of your shitty mood. It feels so good, so it must be healthy.

Are you anxious about the tidiness of your living spaces? Worried that your home is becoming a complete shit show? Stop! Wallow in the mess! Add to it. Don’t try to clean up or zenify your rooms and closets – Not today. Rather, open those QVC boxes and spread your new possessions all around the place. Put your glue gun and its packaging along with all the weird attachments in the center of the dining room table. Bought some new shoes? Line them up across the kitchen counter. Introduce them to your old, worn out shoes. Make a big showcase. Why? Because cleaning isn’t fun.

  Feeling low? Bad about yourself? Well, give yourself a trophy, just for being you. You showed up today, so reward yourself with a “Good Job” plaque and a pat on the back. (Extra points if you showered.) Eat some mac and cheese. No – change your mind and have a hot dog instead. Decide to have both. Or no – skip dinner, and go straight for dessert. Gratification Now!

Now doesn’t that feel good?

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Amy Poeppel grew up in Dallas, Texas and left the south to attend Wellesley College. Since then, she has worked as an actor, a high school English teacher, and most recently as the Assistant Director of Admissions at a school in New York City. Her three fabulous boys are all off in Boston attending school, and she and her husband now split their time between New York and Frankfurt, Germany. A theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS was workshopped at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into her first novel.

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