We had 6 ‘trick-or-treaters’ at our new home last night.
Fortunately, in an effort to trick myself into not eating the treats we had ready to hand out to the hordes (we were hopeful), I’d bought a box of treats that are not my favourite. When it comes to mini-sized packs of chocolate Halloween treats, I can’t always trust myself not to dive in. Twizzlers and Nibs? I can take ’em or leave ’em.
I left ’em. Though C.C. was pleased to have a bedtime snack all to himself!
In this case, self-awareness (and experience) trumped the need to trust myself. I removed the temptation and I was safe on the eve of Trick-or-Treat!
I used to believe that the best way to ‘fix’ myself was to make a resolve and then not set myself up for success. Like, make a decision to not eat chocolate for a period of time but don’t ensure there’s no chocolate in the house to tempt me.
The mind wants what the mind wants. And often, my mind’s desires are not connected to my body’s needs. Not because my mind doesn’t know what’s best for me, but rather, because my thinking gets messed up in dark and dingy pathways that don’t necessarily lead me to the ‘right thing to do’ for myself but rather, the more familiar, easier things to do are often the path of least resistance.
I am what I think. In the face of thinking about what I’m resisting, resistance to change persists. And when I top that with ease of access to the thing I’m resisting, I need increased willpower to override both natural resistance and thoughts of what I’ve told myself I cannot have. In the midst of what my brain has labelled as my ‘deprivation’, withholding from myself the thing I want that may not be good for me but I’m convinced I need, my ability to employ resistance is impeded.
Whew! Now that’s a heady, convoluted mindmap!
But think about it.
You make a decision to lose weight. You have a food plan all worked out. You are Committed.
You’re doing great! Two days in and you haven’t broken your resolve once. But man, if only you could quiet your thinking about what you can’t have and just stay focused on the benefits of losing weight and how good you’ll feel at the end.
And then, you have a bad day at work, or an argument with a loved one or something goes wrong, like your car breaks down and needs some expensive repairs. You forget your carefully prepared lunch at home and decide to go to your favourite deli for a salad. Except, when you’re standing at the counter about to give your order, the words come out of your mouth despite the little voice in the back of your mind whispering, “Don’t do it.” you say, “I’ll have a cheese burger with all the fixin’s. And what the heck, an order of fries on the side.”
In simple terms, ‘the critter’ was acting out. Your rational mind knows there’s no connection between the things that have gone on and your diet. It knows you ‘should have’ ordered the salad with the dressing on the side even!
But… you deserve a break today!
Or so the critter tells you. And the critter is always convinced he knows best because heck! He’s only trying to protect you!
He gets scared when things don’t go as planned, and diets always make him worry about famines and starvation and feeling less than full. He’s convinced you needed something to make you feel better because I mean, think about it! Look at all the stuff going on. Just for today, (you’ll have carrot sticks for dinner) it’s okay to break the fast. You deserve it! And what better way to give yourself a pick-me-up than with your favourite — a burger and fries. Because in the world of the critter, giving in to temptation trumps standing steadfast in your resolve. And the pathway to giving in tends to be stronger than the road to shoring up your resolve if only because, in the mind of the critter, resolve takes more work – and you already work hard enough! right?
I didn’t buy a box of mini-chocolate Halloween treats this year.
It was a win/win.
I don’t have to tempt myself with things I know I don’t need, and I don’t have to convince myself not to give in to my thoughts of why I deserve them!
Maybe this growing up thing is working!
Oh, and belated Happy Halloween!