These two actions can sabotage our best efforts to improve.
When we act on impulse, with little to no thought, bad decisions are easy.
If we then add rationalizations on top of those impulsive actions, finding a justification for the impulsive choice only makes matters worse.
Example: we plan out our three meals, no desserts, nothing in between.
But about 3 pm, we are tired and our blood sugar is low. We walk by a store and there is a big chocolate chip cookie staring at us in the face. Impulse – buy and eat that cookie. Rationalization – well, I worked hard today, I am tired, it looks really good and I deserve it.
Impulse + Rationalizations = Another Bad Choice
How do we keep these two types of activities from sabotaging our best efforts?
One thing that we can try is to plan a little better. To anticipate things like the 3 pm tiredness and plan a health snack. The simple act of planning can shield us from poor choices.
Another strategy is to anticipate the rationalization too. To listen to the (sometimes crazy) things that we say to ourselves. The “oh, well, just this one time” kind of statement.
We can always call a friend too. Tell them of our kooky thoughts. Articulating our crazy thoughts put them out in the universe and out of our head.
Finally, we can try to break that quick split second between impulse and decision. To draw out our decision making process a bit. Give us more time to return to equilibrium and get back to a good spot to make a positive decision.
This last tip – pausing before giving in to the impulse – requires us to remember to actually take that pause, but can be a big help in keeping us on track.