A messy experience with desire: the cookie dilemma.

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  • This topic has 9 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 8 months ago by Marta.
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    • #12385
      Marta
      Participant

      Today I went out for a coffee with my boyfriend.

      I had planned to just have a coffee, but when I got to the coffee shop, I felt a little peckish, and there were these very good looking muffins on the counter. I decided to have one, because this is the kind of things I want to be able to do; I want to be able to have a muffin now and then and don’t make a drama out of it or lose control. Also, I’m trying not to be rigid / perfectionist, and I had been eating quite “perfectly” for the last month or so.

      So I had the muffin, and I enjoyed it (with a bit of guilt, I have to admit), and as soon as I finished it, I wanted more. So I thought of a cookie shop down the street and that I could have just one cookie. So here I was having a conversation with myself, a part of me saying: “this sounds a lot like addictive desire, and I don’t want to feed that. I better don’t have that cookie” and the other “you are being RIGID, it’s just ONE cookie, you are depriving yourself and this will backfire and blah blah blah” and to be honest, I couldn’t think of a good reason for not having the cookie, besides not wanting to reinforce the brain wiring that made want to eat more after having the muffin. It all felt so messy and confusing. On top of it, I was with my boyfriend, and we were having a conversation, so I couldn’t think it through properly.

      I finally didn’t have the cookie, but it didn’t felt “right”. I think I was feeling deprived. Later on, when I had a quiet moment, I played the audio, thought through the whole thing, asserted my freedom of choice and reminded myself that I did what my free will was at the moment… And I think I feel a little better about this episode now, but it’s still quite confusing; when I was having this conversation with myself about the cookie, both sides sounded reasonable. I thought the “addictive desire” was more like a primitive, “dumb” part of my brain, but if that was in fact the addictive desire trying to convince me to have the cookie… It’s actually pretty smart, isn’t it? It’s not that easy to tell it apart from my own voice (if there’s such a thing as an “own voice”).

      Maybe this is one of these situations in which you just try to make your best guess? I don’t know. Sorry for the long post. I don’t even know what’s the question I want to ask. Gillian, could you please give me some feedback on this? Thank you!

      • This topic was modified 8 months ago by Marta.
    • #12387
      Kylene
      Participant

      Thank you for sharing. I would love to know any follow up thoughts as well. This may be different, but when I decide to have a treat, it’s hard for me to shut my brain down from having something else too. Sometimes the thought process is feeling unsatisfied with my choice and that I need more to satisfy the sweet tooth. Other times it’s the “may as well…” as in “you’ve already had one cookie, you may as well have another.”

      • #12394
        Marta
        Participant

        Hi Kylene! Thank you for responding. Yes, it felt like I needed a bit more to satisfy my sweet tooth, just a little more. I think this time it wasn’t an “I may as well…” situation, as I was really only going to have one cookie (I’ve done it before ), and what I usually do in an “I may as well…” (or a “now all is lost” situation, which I think is the same ) is go for a full binge.

    • #12389
      Carla
      Participant

      I think my understanding is from what Gillian says is that if you feel guilt or if you feel desire then you haven’t felt free choice and it’s only when you face your addictive desire and make a free choice , facing the outcomes that you don’t feel guilt or deprived as you made the choice , no one told you to eat the cookie do if it’s a free choice, why would you feel deprived.
      Hope ive got this right but I feel like I’m beginning to get this.

      • #12392
        Marta
        Participant

        Carla, thank you for responding. Yes, I agree with you, but I think the problem here is I couldn’t make a free choice because 1. I didn’t know what to choose. I didn’t know which of the options was the right one. The perfectionism thing is very real for me, and I worried that “denying” myself (or deciding not to have) one single regular-sized cookie could be worse in the long run than having it. And 2. Because of the situation, talking with my boyfriend in a loud environment, I couldn’t really think properly or assert my freedom of choice (which even in a quiet moment isn’t that easy for me, I don’t think I’ve had that “breakthrough” moment yet). I wonder if there’s any “trick” for this kind of scenarios.

    • #12390
      Carla
      Participant

      I meant to say if you feel deprived, not desire , in my previous reply, can’t seem to find west to edit it. Perhaps as I’m on my phone!

      • #12402
        Jasper G.
        Participant

        Remember Gillian says “you don’t have to do it to prove it” I understand that to mean that you don’t have to have the muffin or the cookie just to prove that you have free choice.
        You had already decided that you didn’t need the muffin but once in the shop you chose to satisfy your addictive desire. Were you using the “perfection” argument to give you permission to eat the muffin?

      • #12406
        Marta
        Participant

        Hi Jasper! No, I wanted the muffin, that was a conscious decision, and I don’t regret it 🙂 I wrote, “I had planned to just have a coffee” because that’s what I usually do, but it’s not that I had decided not to eat the muffin at home and then did. I may not have expressed myself well 🙂 As for the “perfection” argument, that’s a real thing for me, but maybe you are right; it can also become a handy excuse. It’s a bit complicated, I guess. Thanks for your reply! 🙂

    • #12393
      Gillian
      Moderator

      Marta,

      “I thought the “addictive desire” was more like a primitive, “dumb” part of my brain, but if that was in fact the addictive desire trying to convince me to have the cookie… It’s actually pretty smart, isn’t it? It’s not that easy to tell it apart from my own voice (if there’s such a thing as an “own voice”).”

      You are so right about how very clever the addictive desire can be, and (surprise!) that’s exactly what Week 5 is all about. To be honest, I have oversimplified the “limbic vs PFC” game plan, but let’s go with this because it’s largely accurate and very helpful.

      I want to emphasise that it’s not about getting everything right, it’s about gaining insight from your experiences – and that’s exactly what you seem to be doing. The next time (or even a few times after that) you are in a similar situation, you’ll be that much more able to identify your “own voice” – and yes, you really do have one. Promise.

    • #12396
      Marta
      Participant

      Gillian, I love how you always seem to have an ace up your sleeve! Looking forward to Week 5 🙂
      It’s also very reassuring to be reminded it’s not about getting everything right. It’s easy to forget that. Thank you.

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