Finally I'm getting to this blog that has been percolating in my mind for over a week. It started when I read NUOVAELLE's blog called: "Dark days" in maintenance.
It is very worth a read no matter whether you're just starting out, getting close to your goal, a recent beginner at the maintenance thing, or have been at that maintenance thing a while. Go ahead. I'll wait while you go read it. And LIKE it, you know you want to.
So, in the way it so often happens in my head, I pull a key point out that isn't quite what the original blogger was looking at. I mentioned it briefly in my response to her blog.
Whether it's the pep talk we give ourselves in which we say "I'm doing everything right" (oh, really?) or the ability to eat half a dozen cookies yet complain that all we did was smell them and the fat leapt onto our hips, we humans have an absolutely INCREDIBLE ability to engage in self-deception.
I did just that on that very same day I read that blog with a simple jar of peanut butter. In fact, within a couple hours of responding to that blog. Which really really drove home the ease with which SELF-DECEPTION can occur.
I can look at a list of characteristics, something I was doing working on my mission statement, and see HONESTY. Am I an honest person? I'd like to think so. I tell others the truth as much as possible. I do withhold harmful truth, but don't feel that makes me dishonest. I firmly believe untruth comes back to harm us far worse than truth can.
Then I fib about what made me late to work while talking to coworkers. I tell a homeless person I don't carry cash while I have $40 in my pocket for the club I'm going to.
None of which is terrible, but all of which is practice in SELF-DECEPTION.
If I leave off that extra pudding I ate, but add 10 minutes of cardio that I also don't record, it balances out, right? If I'm eating twice as many almonds as I record, but am still losing weight at an acceptable pace, why should it matter if I look back and see lower calories in numbers?
If I want to be honest, I need to be just as honest if not more with myself as with others.
The very next day, LDRICHEL posted a blog called: Am I Authentic? Are You?
Another blog very well worth a read no matter where we are in life. The important quote is the question she was asked and is answering bit by bit to find where she wants to be:
** When you imagine living a life that is wholly authentic to you and who **
** you truly are as a person, what kinds of practical things do you see **
** yourself doing in that life? **
How do we end up living a life that is NOT authentic to us? The answer that came to mind, because I was already chewing on the concept, was ... through self-deception. We convince ourselves that we're happy enough with the way our life is. We make ourselves believe it is too hard to change things. We accept what others tell us we want and turn it into what we want.
I cannot be authentic if I am willing to lie to myself. I must break the stranglehold of self-deception.
So with that in mind, I kept thinking about the whole peanut butter situation.
At the beginning of the BLC#20, I set two big goals for myself. One was to be able to do a full military pushup. The other was to limit my consumption of peanut butter to planned and measured - on a sandwich or with celery.
Two days out of nearly twelve weeks I have utterly and completely flubbed that goal. Even saying it that way, that's somewhat dishonest. More than a few times I deliberately failed to measure knowing I was eating more than I tracked, but at least I was only eating it on a sandwich or with celery. I would be careful to measure the amounts when we had weekend challenges that included calorie tracking, but that usually left three days of very sloppy tracking.
This more recent time, I stopped with about an inch of peanut butter at the bottom of a jar that had been full and SELF-DECEPTION on my mind. I did have my 2 Tbsp (or more, since I was scooping it with the celery) just as I'd planned into the tracker. From there, however, the inner excuses and outright lies to self started.
I'm just smoothing out the top in the jar.
It won't hurt to clean up the sides of the jar.
One tablespoon more isn't much. I can walk that off.
One more, but we'll skip that other thing later today.
My weight has still been going down even doing this. I'm fine.
Oh shut up and enjoy the flavor.
Why am I even bothering to count tablespoons?
Okay, we're going to stop on this one.
And so on.
Intersting thing, though.
None of those were successful SELF-DECEPTION.
I knew quite well they weren't true. I knew as I thought them that each and every one of the little
chatter were cow poopie. I went right ahead and scooped those extra spoonfuls, not because ~I~ believed the excuses but because I'd already decided I was going to do so.
The SELF-DECEPTION that was successful came much earlier in the sequence.
I prepare my celery in our office kitchen. I keep the peanut butter jar in the office kitchen. I only have my spoons in my desk drawer.
That's right. The peanut buttter jar and the spoons are not in the same room. When I failed to measure out the peanut butter in the kitchen, close the jar, and put it back on the shelf, I successfully lied to myself. I set up the expected scenario that would allow me to eat spoonfuls of peanut butter.
I can't even remember any thought going into that; I don't remember MAKING a decision to carry the jar to my desk or even coming up with a reason to do so. I pulled the wool over my own eyes so completely that even now looking for it, I can't find the moment that occurred.
How is it possible that I lied to myself so completely? Why did I not even think of that as a lie until the whole topic of self-deception crossed my mind?
We have an innate NEED to be right, to know, to believe that we can't lie to ourselves. Sometimes this can be seen in an exaggerated form when someone defends an opinion or action that any person in their right mind would know was wrong. If someone doesn't believe a storm will hit their house, they are willing to stay in that house to prove they are right. They won't say they are willing to die in that house, because they don't believe the storm will hit them - so they aren't going to die.
What I realized today while writing this, and I've been writing this far longer than planned (3 hours?), is that my SELF-DECEPTION goes further back than carrying the jar to my desk.
When I want to lie to myself, I have to inwardly revise my knowledge of things to fit the lie and reject or ignore evidence to the contrary. It took days of thinking about self-deception to make me notice the fact that even in the moment of BUYING the jar of peanut butter each week (a jar that should last nearly three weeks at a rate of 2T per workday usage) I was ignoring evidence that I was eating more than I let myself believe.
This past weekend while out at the grocery store I almost picked up another jar. Instead, I'm eating salad dressing with my celery and having my fruit preserves on toast with butter. My reason for that decision on Saturday was that I didn't want the temptation this last week of the challenge. I passed up other treats for the same reason.
But ... only NOW as I've been writing this did I I think about the fact one jar holds about THIRTEEN servings. I've read that on the jar more than once. I didn't have to go look it up. I ~KNEW~ that information.
I only use (or should), at most, one serving a day. I only have the jar at work, so in one week of work I would use a maximum of five servings.
One jar of peanut butter should last three weeks.
I was buying a jar a week.
Never once in all these weeks, nor in weeks before that, did I question why I was going through so much. I simply accepted that I was out of peanut butter and needed another jar.
I clearly wanted to accept the lie. To do so, I had to believe it to be truth. I had to reject my knowledge and awareness that it was a lie. I had to let myself ignore the evidence. Most important, I had to "erase" all the thought process that went into that so that it didn't even make a blip on my radar as "not true".
There's so much more that I could say on this. But it is 1:03 am my time and I must get it done quickly.
The one important thing I would emphasize is that SELF-DECEPTION isn't solely about eating food. It is in every possible area of our life.
Our relationships are often filled with SELF-DECEPTION. We have to believe ourselves more in the right for an argument or disagreement or drama to have a foothold.
Our finances can be colored by SELF-DECEPTION. I should know. I used to get cash back at the grocery store and call it part of my grocery budget.
Procrastination is a constant act of SELF-DECEPTION, convincing ourselves that we will get this done ... later.
I'll end with this:
The man who says he never lies just lied to you.
The more vehemently we assert that we are absolutely and completely honest, the more likely it is that we have deceived ourselves and must defend the lies to keep them from having the light of truth shone upon them.
I have plenty of SELF-DECEPTION to root out. And when I think I have the last of it ... I'd better start digging deeper.