A couple of weeks ago, I was wondering what happens when I create good habits and I deliberately try to sabotage those habits. Maybe it has happened to you before. As an example, once upon a time I decide to go on a sugar-free diet. All was going until I decided to go on the internet and search for the benefits of eating chocolate. One study in particular from Harvard said chocolate was good for increasing cognitive function and reduce memory decline. Voila, I had found my excuse to eat chocolate. The same for alcohol.
What was I doing? I was creating conditions that would aid my ability to go against my own values without necessarily feeling guilty. A bit of cognitive dissonance.
It’s odd. When it comes to keeping our good habits, instead of fleeing temptation, we often arrange to succumb. In what Dr. Alan Marlatt dubbed “apparently irrelevant decisions,” we make a chain of seemingly insignificant decisions that allow us covertly to engineer the very circumstances that we’ll find irresistible.
In J. M. Barrie’s book, The Boy Castaways of Black Lake Island, a particular line captures it, “We set out to be wrecked.” In the story, three boys set sail to seek the adventure of a wreck; to fail was the very purpose of the undertaking.
I’ll just check my email quickly before I go to the gym…oops, I don’t have time to go to the gym, after all.
I’m not going to eat anything more tonight, but I’ll go into kitchen and look in the freezer. Just curious.
I’ll buy some whiskey to have in the house in case someone stops by.
I’m going to lie on the sofa so I can brainstorm ideas in comfort.
I am going to take a quick nap before I start studying so I can be energised.
I am going window shopping with a friend, I am not going to buy any shoes just look. Oh! no they had a sale and the shoes look nice.
Does this happen to you as well?Do you ever make apparently irrelevant decisions that end up wrecking your good intentions?