“What if you allowed yourself to do the ‘bad thing’ but made a little less bad…for now?”

Hey there, it’s Dr. Hua, and today I want to share a deeply personal journey of mine – a journey that led me to understand the power of harm reduction strategies, especially for those of us with ADHD.

I’ve learned that when it comes to change, especially the kind of change that’s good for us, it’s okay to take small steps. I used to struggle with feeling guilty about not eating enough greens. I could easily go one to two weeks without putting a single green thing into my body. That’s not something to be proud of, but it was my reality.

A few years back, during a period of recovering from depression, I found myself in a cycle of self-criticism. I’d beat myself up for not eating well, then overcompensate by going to expensive organic greens shops. I’d splurge on a fancy salad and a green shake, only to feel shame about wasting money later. Coming from a family of post-Vietnam-war refugees, part of my value system said splurging green shakes was “a bad thing.”   But I realized something important – I didn’t have the capacity to shop for greens, wash them, and create a salad at that point in my life. That was overwhelming for me.

So, I decided to start with harm reduction. Instead of two weeks without greens, it became two weeks minus one day with a fancy serving of greens. Next, it was replacing fancy organic green meals with grocery store green shakes.  Small changes felt more manageable. And I’m pleased to say that I’m now making my own green shakes. I’m glad I let myself do “the bad thing” (washing money on fancy greens) until I was ready to do better. 

We all have something we do that some part of us thinks is bad. It could be not eating right, procrastinating, or trudging through sedentary days without exercise. But here’s the thing: it’s okay to acknowledge where we are and work with it rather than against it.

Incremental changes are the building blocks of lasting habits. The idea that you can transform your life in just 21 days is a myth. So, I encourage you to discover the strength that comes from patience. If there’s something you’re doing that you wish you could change, consider harm reduction as your starting point.

In my journey, I’ve learned that it’s okay to let myself do the “bad thing” a little less bad until I’m ready to try something different. It’s about recognizing where you are and giving yourself the grace to progress at your own pace. Let’s embrace harm reduction as a tool to build the life we want—one step at a time.

So, what’s something you’re doing that you’d like to change? How can you make it a little less bad until you’re ready for a bigger shift? Remember, we’re all works in progress, and that’s perfectly okay.

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