We all know what justifications are. They’re the reasons we give for our behavior. Sometimes justifications are true. They’re an honest explanation of cause and effect. I was late because I got stopped by a train.
But when it comes to justifying addictive eating, we tend to fall into what I call unexamined justifications. These seem like the truth but aren’t really. However because we want to believe them, we don’t stop to think about whether they are true.
- It’s my birthday so I can have cake. Everybody gets cake on their birthday.
- I worked hard. I deserve a treat. Everyone needs a treat now and then.
- I’ll eat this now and eat less tomorrow. That’s totally doable.
It may well be true that it’s your birthday or that you worked hard. But not everybody eats cake on their birthday and not every treat needs to be food. And yes, it is doable to eat something now and eat less the next meal or the next day, but will we really do so? Even as we say these things to ourselves (or others), we know we’re justifying our behavior. We know that what we are about to do is not in our best interest, not if we want to be free of addiction and its consequences. But we use the justification to do it anyway. This sabotages our abstinence.
What unexamined justifications have you used to make decisions that don’t serve your abstinence?