The year was 1983 and I was a baby banker working for THE bank in my hometown. About six weeks before the cookie event, our group found out we would all be getting off work early Friday to go to a “pool party” at one of the executive’s houses.
Woohoo! An afternoon off! Wait – a pool party? That would involve bathing suits (that’s what we called them back then) No thank you – I will just stay at work and hold down the fort.
Then I decided there were six weeks and lots of good eating habits between me and the dreaded bathing suit party. So I started dieting and I was really, really good. For six whole weeks, I abstained from every kind of food I loved. Hunger was ever present and I couldn’t wait for the pool party to be over.
The day of the party arrived and my thing to bring to the party was chocolate cookies. Well, I’m pretty sure I decided to bring cookies because I had eaten enough salads to fill the swimming pool.
On the day of the party, the big box of cookies was sitting next to my desk. Every time I smelled them, my mouth watered. The first half of the morning I resisted – I had been sooooo good for so long. Then I decided that one cookie wouldn’t kill me.
So I ate it. It was as delicious as my mouthwatering dreams had promised. Then the floodgates opened. I had another. And then another. After 3, I had to do something with the rising guilt. How could I have lost my willpower so fast? I had a choice. Either stop eating cookies or find a way to make it ok.
Here was my justification: the fat from eating cookies now could not possibly hit my thighs in the next 3 hours. I will look the same in my bathing suit in three hours as I do right now. So eating more cookies will not hurt a THING! Let’s have one more.
I have no idea how many cookies I ate that day – but it was a lot. Enough to make me feel sick. It might have been the last time I ever baked chocolate chip cookies.
I don’t remember if I gained a bunch of weight from eating all those cookies, nor do I even remember the party all that much. I’m pretty sure my good eating habits went out the window for at least another decade.
What I mostly remember from cookie event was the way I made my choice that day. How I justified going back to my old habits. It was years before I learned to make a real change in my eating habits.
It was years before I learned to make real change in anything that mattered.
Instead of changing, I was an expert in justifying. There is a good reason that I did – whatever it is that you tell me I could do better.
My internal logic went something like this: “If you only knew why I did whatever-bad-thing you are talking-to me about, you would agree that I did the RIGHT thing.” So I would proceed to justify and explain and sell and whatever else it took for you to see than I couldn’t, wouldn’t possible change.
Our minds can work that way. It’s so much easier to justify than it is to actually change something.
It’s so easy to take a grain of dissatisfaction (I need to lose 5 pounds, I need to be kinder, I need to balance my work time better) and decide it’s ok when faced with the reality of what it will take to change.
What I have found works for me is to let that dissatisfaction grow instead of diminishing it. I have to recognize the consequences of whatever it is I need to change rather than finding reasons I don’t need to change it.
Does it work all the time? Heck no! But I have made some substantial changes in my life.
The truth is that it works when I really want it to.
Where are you justifying something you really want to change? What is staying stuck, even though you don’t like it?
Where are you living slightly satisfied instead of facing what you really need to change?
We are coming to the end of another year – what is it time for you to truly change?
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