Monday, April 18, 2016

Our relationship with our excuses Part I

In the Bright Line community on private Facebook pages, we get to hear of participants' successes and struggles with abstinence from sugar, flour, and snacks; how they figure out and use the scale or don't; and most importantly, why they relapse and keep relapsing. I've been thinking a lot about what they say about this failure to stay abstinent and I realize that some of it has to do with our relationship with excuses.

We use excuses (we often call them explanations) to justify our behavior. I had a bad cold so I needed to have ice cream. I had a tough day at work so I stopped and got corn chips on the way home. It was my grandson's birthday and I couldn't insult his mother by not eating cake. These excuses become foundational in why we aren't succeeding at whatever we want to be doing (losing weight, staying abstinent) but they don't help us change. In fact, they keep us stuck.

Why? Because the cause and effect (head cold = ice cream) isn't nearly that simple. It's completely possible to have ahead cold and not eat ice cream. Millions of people do that. The truth is that as addicts, we want to relapse. We want to keep eating and using food to make ourselves feel better (even if, paradoxically, it makes us feel worse). The truth is our addict brains are looking for excuses, looking for justifications for behavior that a big part of us doesn't really want to change. We don't want to own the fact that we are powerless over those addictive substances and so we blame our circumstances. This is not very helpful.

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