Monday, July 19, 2010

Holding to my commitment

I had lunch with a friend today who congratulated me on my will power and not eating sugar for these past five months. I thanked her and didn't explain that she didn't get it. My abstinence from dessert has very little to do with will power. Will power is what you use when you have a choice. When the ice cream is in the fridge and you don't choose it. When that big bar of chocolate gets passed around and you take one square and don't take four.

WhatI I'm exercising instead is commitment. I have made a commitment to not eat dessert. When my friend Elizabeth and I had lunch on Saturday and she wanted gelato to celebrate her birthday, I didn't get any because I have made a commitment and honoring that commitment is important to me.

There's a paradox here that is familiar to alcoholics and addicts. As long as I don't choose alcohol, I have a choice about whether I drink or not. Once I choose it, choice is over and I'm off and running. I think sugar would be the same. If I chose ice cream on Saturday, then it would be hard to not feel I had dishonored my commitment and the shame of that would push me into other eating behaviors.

Commitment is about pride and promise. Will power is about discipline. There's a difference, perhaps a spiritual component, that I'm hard pressed to explain but that is very real to me.

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