Dear Georgie, I escaped the Easter candy gauntlet at the grocery yesterday without buying some, despite being hungry. BUT, the today I started to rationalize that I deserved it because I said “no” the day before. And then I fell apart. I know it’s irrational, but I’m not sure how to handle this type of thing and say no to things continually without eventually giving in. Ideas?
Well, rationalizations don’t have to be legitimate to influence our behavior, do they? But knowing our “usual” fibs to ourselves can be helpful in saying, “Nuh uh! I’m SO not falling for that lousy logic again!” So you did a great job by recognizing your pattern: making healthy food choices, but then feeling like that denial and sacrifice earned you some leeway in the future.
I have two ideas you might want to try. One is to realize you aren’t ever only saying “no”. With every option you decline, you are saying yes to something else.
When you say yes to eating junk food or to emotional eating, you are at the same time saying no to having a weight loss day, to getting into bed with a certain feeling of pride and self-esteem, and to reaching your physical goals. When you say no to eating junk food, you are saying yes to to those other things. Perhaps flipping this over in your mind (into “I said yes to weight loss and healthy eating yesterday”) will help keep you from developing a mounting backlog of “I’m always telling myself no!” which piles up and piles up and leads to resentment and rebellion. And Cadbury Eggs.
It helps to connect the effort with the reward.
The second idea is related. Every time you make a good food choice, give yourself a pat on the back. Give yourself a mental reward for what you did, so it doesn’t feel like a loss or punishment. If you neglect giving yourself the positive feedback and silent cheerleading, (“Woohooo! Go me!”) all that you’ll pick up on is what feels sacrificial about the choice. Remember the foundation of habits. What gets rewarded gets repeated. Without a reward, you won’t keep repeating any choice for long.
Do you think you could replace a little “I’m depriving myself and saying no” with some “I’m saying yes to self-esteem and health. That’s cool. Go me!” ? Think it over.
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