Yesterday, I went into a coffee shop and chatted with a guy who was buying a doughnut in the afternoon to get him through the rest of the day.
Out of nowhere, he looked over and randomly started justifying the purchase to me, “Eh, it’s all genetics anyway, I’m gonna just enjoy myself.”
It caught me off guard, but it also made me think.
Regardless of whether or not he really believed that genetics only controlled his health and his weight (he was only maybe 15-25 pounds overweight), he flat out denied responsibility and instead blamed it on genetics.
Did he really mean that?
Or was he just inventing an excuse to avoid personal responsibility so he could have his doughnut guilt free?
As I dug deeper, I realized there was a profound psychological insight that we all can learn from.
Why We Lie To Ourselves On Purpose to Avoid Pain
Why Lying is Sometimes Better Than Telling The Truth
It doesn’t matter what we’re trying to improve: our relationships, our finances, or our health, we all have painful, emotional relationships with whatever we’re trying to improve.
And sometimes, we just lie to ourselves because even though it won’t make us better in the long run, in the short run it makes us feel better about ourselves.
Sometimes we tell ourselves lies to feel comfortable, like:
– “Oh it’s just this once,” even though we know it’s a lie. Sometimes we want that piece of chocolate cake, and we say “just a bite” even though we know that (like always) we’re going to want an entire piece.
And sometimes if we tell ourselves we just want one bite, we feel ridiculously guilty by having an entire piece. But what if we just had the entire piece and were done with it?
- “I’ll do it tomorrow,” even though we always say that. It’s also really easy to procrastinate when we say, “Ok, i’m going to start walking tomorrow. I’m DONE feeling like this. Time to start!!” But sometimes that goes on for months or even years.
Sometimes we do it to feel better, almost like we’ve already convinced ourselves that we’re doing a good job… without ever having done it.
- “As soon as I get back from vacation I’m going to eat perfectly.” Hey, if I’m on vacation, I want to enjoy myself and don’t want to deprive myself of all the great food, tasty desserts, and cocktails, right? But how often do we say “I’ll get right back on track” and then actually do it?
Why do we do this to ourselves?
It’s easier to continue on eating the doughnut – or not checking our finances and doing the numbers – than it is to be FULLY present, conscious, and aware of what we’re doing, and why.
It’s a lot easier if we’re struggling financially to just keep charging things on the card and avoid the pain of looking at how little money we have.
Yeah, a lot EASIER. But we screw ourselves over the long run.
It’s human nature to want to avoid pain now and then, but human psychology sometimes involves lots of self sabotage. After all, we can only ignore the doughnut for so long before the outer world shows our mistakes, right?
We can only avoid doing our finances so long before the creditors call and we’re in debt.
How to Tell The Truth… And Still Eat Doughnuts Guilt-Free
So what’s the fix?
How do we actually show up 100% honest with ourselves, but also still get to eat the chocolate cake, drink the wine, and enjoy life.
(Otherwise, what’s the point??).
The fix is simple: Tell yourself the truth.
Be 100% honest with yourself about WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.
… And then let yourself indulge.
So the next time you see that chocolate cake, and you know you’ve been good, let yourself destroy an entire piece. But be 100% conscious about why you’re doing it – don’t just let yourself get dragged into mindlessly eating it.
Give yourself GUILT FREE indulgence, as long as you are 100% honest why it’s happening.
It sounds bizarre, but it’s the difference between guiltily eating a dessert or drinking an extra glass of wine versus really enjoying it… without the emotional guilt hangover the next day.
Your Tiny Habit For Today
Observe the story that you sometimes tell yourself.
We’ve all got stories hidden somewhere, sometimes to justify failure, sometimes just to justify not going after the things we love.
The narrative is the most powerful force for success or failure when it comes to our health.
Next time the tendency shows up to tell a little white lie, to make yourself feel better in the short run, observe WHY you’re saying it – and whether or not it’s going to serve you in the long run for all your health and weight goals.
What stories have you told yourself to avoid discomfort? Share below.