Have you ever promised yourself that you would eat “better” tomorrow but tomorrow just became a rerun of yesterday? You start out the day with the best of intentions but then you get sidelined by an old habit or a persistent craving. It’s not that your plans weren’t good- you really, really wanted to do better, but the same justifications tripped you up. Once again.
This was the story of my life and I can still relate to this Groundhog Day cycle on many levels. We do want today to make better choices, choices that we will be proud of, but it’s difficult to see past the discomfort of change a the moment. The pull of our normal routine is not an easy one to break but it is possible and it is easier with the right tools (and questions!).
WHY IS IT SO HARD FOR ME?
One of the most common attributes of people who overcome difficult situations is that they accurately estimate the toughness of the challenges they face. This isn’t negative thinking; it is taking a step back and making a neutral observation about what lies ahead. Because these individuals take the time to honestly assess their circumstance, they adequately prepare and are they are not shocked and discouraged when opposition arises.
Those who tend to struggle more deeply are more likely to put themselves into tempting situations. They UNDERestimate the challenge and OVERestimate their self-control or ability to make a good choice. They end up in over their heads and wonder what happened! Everything seemed copacetic but then “something” happened.
If you find that you struggle with persistent problems, see if you are filtering out the difficulties and not adequately preparing.
HERE I GO AGAIN
I have about a thousand examples of this phenomenon from my own life.
The week or the night before I threw out all of a “problem” food. Then, at the grocery store, I found myself fully convinced that I could bring this item home and eat it in a moderate and self-controlled way. I put my blinders on and blocked out the mountains of evidence that told me otherwise and pushed forward with my wishful thinking. I bet it doesn’t surprise you that I found myself overeating said food, AGAIN.
It is so simple to spot these predictable patterns in the life of others. Standing from the outside we can easily see the common thread of behavior. It doesn’t shock us that the scenario repeats itself. In our own lives, that’s another story!
WE ISOLATE OUR DECISION MAKING
One of the biggest challenges to making good choices is that we fail to see the compounded outcome of our decisions. We think “today I will make this choice but tomorrow I will do better”. It is as if we expect the self-control fairy to sprinkle magic dust on us as we sleep. But, as you and I both know, self-control is a skill that is developed with hard work and persistence. It’s rarely gifted.
For example, you may decide that having sugary creamer in your coffee is something that you would like to change. You do enjoy it but it’s not worth the caloric cost it adds on a daily basis. So, you opt to start tomorrow. Then tomorrow comes and you’re faced with your beloved French Vanilla. Oh, the sweetness. You can almost taste it! Ponder what decision to make, you talk yourself into having it “just today”. You have no evidence to prove that this will be true, but you believe it.
So what if we got real with ourselves and got on board with the truth about habits? Habit are things we do most of the time. If we do a certain behavior yesterday and the 30 days prior, there is a spectacular chance that we will do it again.
If we always overindulge after dinner, what on earth would make us think tomorrow would be any different? Let’s call ourselves out on our own (pardon my French) crap and get REAL! Making strides towards our goals will take work and we are fooling ourselves to think otherwise.
When making a decision, the question we ask ourselves is- “Am I ok with making this choice every day for the next 30 days?” Because, after all, isn’t that the truth! If we vote to do it “one more time” what are we really saying?
When we compound our choices we are able to make a decision based on ACTUAL FACT. You see, all of those times that you made the call to move forward and eat that food “just today”, you were making those decisions on FAULTY evidence.
John 8:32 NLT And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They say ignorance is bliss but, is it really? Do we really want to spend hours, days, weeks, months, and YEARS making choices without the full acknowledgment of the outcome of our decisions?
We often get stuck in cycles of repeated unwanted behaviors because we do not look at our situation objectively and honestly. By examining our history we can see the way in which the current is taking us and decide if we want to continue to float along.
Making better choices doesn’t involve jumping through flaming hoops with iron willpower. By simply asking ourselves the right questions we can uncover the true outcome of our decision-making. Now we connect with the true nature of our desires.