Would I Lie To Me?
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t overeat this thanksgiving. I was very responsible. I only had a bit of turkey, a bit of stuffing ... Oh and I suppose a bit of fifteen other dishes. Plus dessert. Twice.
Well, I suppose I might have eaten ‘a bit’ more than I remember. Why is that?
If I’ve ever been able to identify the thing that gives me the most frustration in life, the thing that sabotages all of my biggest dreams and goals, it’s my profound ability to deceive myself.
Now before you write me off, before you dismiss yourself from this conversation, I will dare to say it: you’re probably pretty great at lying to yourself too.
It’s easy to mis-remember how much and what we ate, or how a particular conversation went, or even how much work we got done in a particular day. For some reason, our brains are great at helping us think we’re greater, more-disciplined or harder working than we really are.
Either that, or we’re inevitably thinking how terrible we are at something, how we failed someone, what they’re probably thinking of us, or just condemning our own poor performance. Whichever way it goes, we’re great at deceiving ourselves.
The real danger is failing to acknowledge it.
We think we can trust our brains. Who else has been there for us all along? (Alright, perhaps barring that one time in university when brain, under alcohol’s influence, led us to believe that we were the karaoke / karate star we always dreamed we could be.)
But the brain was designed to protect us, even to our own detriment it seems. It’s kind of like the iRobot movie: the computers clearly see we’re on a collision course with our own self-destruction, so in order to protect us from this imminent future, they take away our control. The brain is just as smart and cunning.
I had to learn, during my marathon training, that my brain will do everything it can to protect me and to stop me from running the incoherent 42 kilometers.
“What’s the hurry? Just take it easy. In fact, stop here. This is a great time for a nap. Yes, I know it’s only kilometer 1.”
I had to learn to trick my brain into not giving me such messages and to trust my body. Well it’s the same with anything we’re trying to learn or discipline ourselves with. We’ve gotten really good at surviving and our brain is all about maintaining the safe status quo- even if you aren’t.
So when I look back on my week to see if I’ve eaten fairly well, I don’t tend to recall the muffin I had Monday morning, the pick-me-up candy I had on Tuesday afternoon and the countless other treats I had- in small amounts mind you- but throughout the week.
Those all add up.
That’s why dieticians suggest journaling. You can’t hide from the data.
And that’s really the litmus test I use in life: what do my results say? If they’re not the results I want, the most likely cause is that I just haven’t done the work. Don’t fool yourself into thinking there’s any other cause until you’ve at least ruled out this possibility.
It’s too easy these days to blame anything outside of ourselves and our own efforts. But the truth is, we’re more than likely the culprit for it all. Don’t believe me? Log it. Test your brain and see if it hasn’t been tricking you all this time.
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