For at least 20 years, I always had ice cream in my freezer and pretzels or potato chips in my cupboard.
Somewhere inside, I knew I didn’t want them. I told myself I couldn’t help buying and eating them, but I could. I didn’t stop.
When I bought them, I would tell myself why buying them was okay, even though I thought I shouldn’t.
How addicts think
Addicts tell themselves why something they consciously oppose is okay.
When I tell people I avoid packaging or flying, they tell me why some type of packaging is actually okay or that the plane would fly anyway. I know the thinking because we all have it in us. It’s not you or me that think that way. Humans think that way.
But mature means we overcome it. Few adults eat Twinkies like kids do. We mature to broccoli.
You know the thought pattern: “I know I shouldn’t, but actually this one time it’s okay.” You don’t choose to think it. Our emotional system activates it automatically.
The reason may be the most specious garbage that a moment’s consideration would override, but we allow it to happen. A person trying to lose weight will allow him or herself to think that eating a cheesecake will lead to eating less later. A smoker will buy a pack saying that since it’s not a case it means he or she really means to quit.
You can overcome it if you want. The more you practice, the more skilled you get at it.
What people justify
Identifying the pattern leads me to see it more often.
Regarding polluting, nearly everyone allows themselves to accept that thought pattern for things they know pollute, however fatuous and self-serving the non-logic. They accept that planes would fly anyway. They say that they would use plastic bags. They accept unnecessary packaging they know will endure centuries in landfills.
Here are cases where people apply the pattern:
- Single-use plastic
- Plastic bags
After a while the temptation turns to disgust and you stop thinking that way. Instead of associating Ben and Jerry’s with sweetness, I associate it with diabetes and cloying oversweetness.
I doubt Twinkies tempt that many adults.
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