Here’s the “pain in the butt” thing about decision making. Whether we make the right decisions for the right reasons or vice versa, every decision we make has an impact on us psychologically.
We tend to forget that in the passion of the moment. We think only of how we feel right now, letting our id coax us into a decision that later makes us feel regretful, perhaps not of the decision itself but maybe the haste with which we went into the decision or the lack of reverence we showed for the consequences.
To use an extremely simplistic example that relates well to post-weight loss surgery, let’s look at the case of the sugar-free Girl Scout cookie. Yes, I said a cookie. I often shy away from talking about food in my inspirations because food is not the battle we fight, but the weapon with which we fight it, but in this case the cookie works well.
The serving size is 3 cookies. That serving has 160 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates. Many of us can eat this without the side effect of dumping and while it does not taste exactly like the gooey, sugar-filled chocolate chip cookies of days old, it commands enough of the sensory experience to get us by.
So one day we decide to eat the cookies. Our sweet tooth has been nagging us. Our Aunt Flo has visited. We’ve had a long day and want to settle down to a nice treat. And we eat the cookies. And they are good. But after we eat them, something tends to happen to us post-ops. Thoughts start creeping in. “Should I have eaten the cookies? Look how many carbs are in them! How many carbs did I eat the rest of the day! These are simple carbs right? This is what made me fat in the first place! I have no self control! Ahhhhhh!”
Thus three little cookies have become a very big deal.
By sharing this example I am NOT saying it is bad to eat sugar-free Girl Scout cookies. Please don’t take that from what I write. What I am saying is that we should learn, at least in the earlier stages post-op, to make decisions based on a myriad of factors including how certain decisions will make you feel.
I dealt with the cookie situation myself just minutes ago. I walked into the staff kitchen with the intentions of getting some water from the water machine. On the counter is a tin full to the brim of cookies. (thankfully they are not sugar-free so that is an automatic no-no for me as I dump…badly) They smelled soooooo good. I spent two full minutes trying to work out in my head if I thought a bite of one would make me dump. Then my brain kicked in saying, “yes, but then you’re going to spend the rest of the day beating yourself up for taking one damn bite of a cookie and, really, is it worth all that?” I decided it was not and thus bypassed the cookie tin, got my water, and got the hell out of Dodge.
Because here is the danger in the decision to go the other way. I eat a bite of the cookie, am inundated with those self-destructive, TOXIC thoughts. I doom myself to failure. I am a lost cause. RNY has not worked for me! Forget that I’ve lost the equivalent of a whole adult human and that I am healthier than I have been my whole life…no, no! I ate a bite of a cookie and am therefore going to hell. On the express bus.
Having decided this, why should I be conscientious about anything that I eat? Hell, I should just go get some buffalo wings right now. Some fries. A McDouble cheeseburger. Because I failed, and am doomed to keep failing, why bother to try?
The amazing thing about our minds in particular is that these thoughts are not a slow domino effect. We go from A to Z quite quickly and without stopping to give much thought to the build-up of this argument and how ridiculous it is.
So what it all boils down to is two things:
#1 – Own your decisions. This means more than accepting them. When you own your house you do more than occupy it. You make improvements to it. You plan for how you want it to be. You take care of it and protect it from damage. Same thing with your decisions. Go into them with a sense of ownership. Develop some standards that you can resort to in “fly by” situations like the cookie in the break room or the nachos at the staff party. But most of all, see a mistake for what it is. An less than stellar choice which has the potential to teach you a LOT about what you should or should not do next time you are faced with a similar situation.
#2 – Once you have taken ownership of your decisions, give some credence to your psyche. It is a fragile thing. You must protect it. Your decisions impact your psyche. Consider that when making decisions. Yes, it is a pain in the butt. Yes, in a so-called “normal” life we should not have to stop and do this exercise at every fork in the road but guess what? We’re not normal! (whatever that is) Before making a decision with the potential to evoke toxic thinking (and you’d know this if you develop your standards), think about how the outcome of your decision will make you feel. If it’s worth it—go for it. If it’s not, consider passing.
I write this because I see a lot of people who claim that their feelings happen to them. Your feelings don’t just happen to you. They are a result of some decision you made. Just as other people cannot make us feel any particular way, our feelings don’t materialize out of thin air. Be empowered to take charge of your feelings!