We hear about cheating that happens in relationships, in education, at work…but what about cheating on yourself? To cheat on yourself, means to steer away from your goals and intentions, knowing what you should do, but not actually doing it.
There are too many small incidences where I’ve ‘cheated on myself’, usually lured by temptation, or simply procrastination.
“If self-control is weak, does that mean it’s bad?”
Lately I’ve developed a mission to live a ‘healthier’ life, eat clean, work out more regularly; and I keep to my routine and share my efforts on Instagram to keep myself on track. But when my family takes me out to lunch buffet, it’s hard to say no, and it’s hard to only eat the clean and healthy selections at the buffet. If I was to strictly enforce myself to this healthy lifestyle, I should be refraining from indulging, but instead, I decided to not “publicize” this meal by sharing it on social media despite the foodie that lives in me. I know I should be strict on myself to get the results I want (which is a matter of time), but then my mind and body just doesn’t always follow. And I’d think perhaps I have weak self-control.
If self-control is weak, does that mean it’s bad? Does that mean it’s a slower path to success, because you’ve fallen behind again and again? We are accustomed to think that the key to success, is to be consistent and stick to your goals, which sometimes also means suppressing your desires. On the contrary, if you’re letting self-control slip out of hand, it’s almost as though you know your goal, but you’re denying your lack of efforts in getting there.
There was something called the Chocolate and Radish experiment by a psychologist called Roy Baumeister. He gave two groups of people radishes and chocolate cookies, one group was allowed to eat only the radish, and the other was allowed to eat the cookies. The radish group overcame temptation and didn’t touch the cookies. They were then asked to solve a very difficult puzzle, while the objective of the experiment to observe which group would endure for longer and make more attempts before they gave up. The cookie group, after being ‘rewarded’ with cookies, performed better, while the radish group, gave up earlier because they ran out of patience.
The finding, was that self-control is an exhaustible resource! What that tells us, is we can’t always suppress ours desires only to do the things we have planned to do, because over-suppression will lead to performance deterioration. So it’s ok to lose self-control once in a while, might as well reward yourself, and ‘cheat’ a little.