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My thought processing (and maybe yours too)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I have been immersed in various books, and audio books over the past year or so trying to get all of the answers to my questions. I probably will be searching forever as I know that the more information I read and interpret, the more questions get spawned from those readings. Sort of like when I was young trying to make sense of music and bands. I would read something that led me on a wild chase to get information on that one particular event (like when Buddy Holly died; where was it, who was on board, what time did this happen, etc.) that would eventually lead me down a totally different path. Now, though I do it with the Internet and books.

I have always been a very inquisitive person; pensive about many things. Primarily life and our purpose. I still am, but on a different level as my mental maturity has developed (or maybe my mental immaturaty is not winning as much).

So lately, I've been gravitating toward the theme of mental maturity and how I process events. An example -- If I drop something on the floor, do I pick it up or do I use the excuse that my back hurts and then ask somebody else like my son to pick it up? Or if I have been exercising a lot, do I 'reward' myself for a job well done with extra calories since they "will just get burned up anyway"?

I finished a book called "Succeed" by a psychotherapist. Her name is Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson and she's written many books. The reason I like her is that she presents material in a way that is easy for me to digest and much of it reminds me of myself. She's written a few books & they're on Amazon.

One thing that sprung out at me and hit me on the head was an explanation of why we reward ourselves. She has hypothesized on many things and present studies and research that support her explanation and I like them; at least for now. In a nutsheel, we attempt to justify our current behavior because IMMEDIATE consequences are more likely to impact our behavior rather than ones that are far in the future.

She illustrated with an example of a survey I believe that if somebody completed it NOW, they would receive $10 on the spot or if they completed it now, they would go through a process and eventally wait a few weeks for a $20 check. Think of "mail in" rebates. I for one would much prefer choosing an item with a cash register discount rather than the eventual wait of 8 weeks for a $5 check on Bounty paper towels. Sometimes I never even complete all the information; I'm sure I'm not alone.

I for one am guilty of rewarding myself. Not just in the sens of money or food, but mainly in whatever I do. I feel that if I've been good at exercise, I am then "able to eat that cupcake", or "have some junk calories before bed; they'll just burn off anyway". The list goes on into my personal and job as well.

The act of justifying to yourself that it's OK to do something, when your deeper self knows that this is not true (but you choose to ignore), is done many times automatically and without regard to what you KNOW you should be doing. This bleeds into the area of procrastination whereby I know that the report may be due on Friday and although it's Monday and it'll take 3 hours to complete, "I got PLENTY of time to get her done...". That's the voice of justification. Then on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the same voice justifies that the report may not be urgent and time is still available. Even on Friday, I will measure out 3-5 hours prior to the deadline and THEN start, only to hit an obstacle and unltimately be late and miss the deadline.


She explains that when our mind projects situations in the future, our immediate mind finds it difficult to comprehend and therefore, does not see the immediate impact of our actions. Another example is taxes. I've known since January 14 and have had all my documentation in hand back then but still, justify that April 15th is so far away that it should be dealt with at a later time. She assures us that it's not our fault but the way we're wired. She also has steps to recognize what you're doing and no matter how difficult, take action to eventually turn the ship and do things as you are available.

Things for me that fall in this bucket (doing things later or not at all) that I need to work on are:

Leaving late for work; although nobody cares, the sooner I get in, the sooner I can leave and get back home to work on me
Beginning (all) work and private projects later after many realized and known missed deadline
Exercising in the morning but justifying that I will do it when I get home (exhausted); never happens
Sticking to eating well and losing excess fat no matter what the scale says
Inner chatter of trying to convince myself that I can lose 100 pounds in a year when I am still struggling with the first 40 and not moving. The concept of March 2015 is so far away that before I know it, it'll be here. It's happened every year for many years!!!!!!!!!!
And lastly, my taxes for the 2013 year.

So to begin this exercise I will attempt to coach myself when I feel that feeling; I can't even describe it, but it's an internal 'unsteady mental feeling and visual" when I justify bad behavior or procrastination. I think we all have different ways of feeling of seeing this. Mine is just a feeling of frustration, combined with the RELIEF (of delay) of not having to do the task in question. Once the relief kicks in, it's like a high and no matter what, I can never regain traction until the situation comes up again. Take night time eating as an example. I will eat before bed and as long as I am high on the food (not binging, but nevertheless eating bread or cookies), that relief blocks out my concern of losing weight for the next 12 months and I justify that I will work extra hard tomorrow to work off the eating; never happens. Just a cycle.

I will also add (on my own) that some of the behavior of delayed action is related to fear and / or self esteem in myself. Fear is a broad term for everybody. For me, fear of owing a lot of taxes and simply delaying the truth.

Have a great Wednesday and try to check out Heidi's work. It is amazing behavioral stuff.


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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    food for thoughts.... it does make sense. I will have to think more about this. Thanks for sharing
    2288 days ago
  • _BABE_
    I had just finishing congratulating myself that despite sitting around looking for a job and being stressful I had not gained weight. Low and behold that declaration sent me to the store for twizzlers after not even a particularly stressful interview.....reward or punishment?

    2293 days ago
    Wow Dave, you are very deep. I like that. This blog made me think ~ thought my brain was too tired after today, but I actually enjoyed this :) I've often wondered why we do the reward thing... lost 10 lbs now what can I do for myself... Yes, I do it too. Since I've been on Atkins I haven't really rewarded myself with food I know I shouldn't have, but I will binge sometimes on my low carb stuff. Stupid, really. Guess it's amazing how we could control ourselves if we would just use our thought process in a positive way... all the time. Ah well. Thanks for the friend add ~ I'll be eager to read more of your blogs!
    2295 days ago
    I am a king of procrastination... One of my major faults that I try to work on every day!
    2300 days ago
    On the same topic, author Tim Ferriss talks about getting things done by setting early deadlines. For instance, the report that's due on Friday, he suggests creating an earlier deadline of say Tuesday. Writing it down, making note of it and making that deadline stick so you actually get it done sooner and look good to the higher ups. Of course this isn't easy to do, because in your mind you still know what the REAL deadline is, that's the obstacle to overcome!
    2308 days ago
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