Confusing the outlier with the average

You know those days when you eat a small, “healthy” salad for lunch and it’s exactly what you’re craving?

And then you think to yourself, I’ve finally found my new average meal! I’ll just have salads every day now! And then I’ll be skinny and beautiful and healthy! And did I mention that I’ll be skinny?

And then, inevitably, you eat pizza for lunch the next day. Or twelve large spoonfuls of brownie batter.

Does that ever happen to you? It used to happen to me a lot (and sometimes still does).

Many of us have a tendency to confuse the outlier with the average. 

This is particularly likely to happen when we are attached to a certain “idea” of ourselves.

If we are attached to the idea of being thin (perhaps due to certain societal expectations), and then find ourselves eating in a way that might result in weight loss, we get very attached to that way of eating. And we’re very disappointed in ourselves when we — inevitably — return our more “average” style of eating.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to eating and weight. It can happen with any false “ideas” we have about ourselves:

Ideas about our productivity
Or generosity
Or interest in exercise
Or courage
Or selflessness
Or kindness

It’s not exactly news that most of us are flawed, messy, good-and-bad folks. We eat healthily and unhealthily. Sometimes we prioritize others and sometimes we prioritize ourselves. Sometimes we get a lot done and sometimes we don’t.

The real pain is the suffering you experience when we deny our own variability. 

If we accept that the “perfect” salad day is just one end of the spectrum, and not our new “average”…the suffering disappears.

You get me?