The Philosophy of Can’t, Inc

I was just heating up my wheat-free/gluten-free veggie lasagna in the office kitchen, where there are veggie burgers (with gluten,) and buns (with gluten,) and Zingers (with gluten) and sundry other yummy things (with gluten) lying about. My first thought was a general disappointment; “I can’t have those. I can never have those.”

Well, that’s just silly.

Of course, I can put my fifty cents into the vending machine, push the buttons for the Zingers and chow them right down. I can do this.

Doing so, however, means being willing to face the consequences – in my case, extreme intestinal distress for a good 48 hours. Is it worth the consequences? Not today. Maybe someday, I’ll really feel like I emotionally need something that has The Gluten in it, and maybe I’ll take that dive into deliciousness and decadence, followed by unpleasantness and general awfulness.

It’s a choice, not eating gluten. My choice. Strangely, that makes it a bit easier. I can eat this stuff, if I so choose. There is no invisible hand restraining me. Heck, I could probably go back to eating it all the time and the acute symptoms would fade into the background buzz of an overall sense of being unwell again. I wasn’t miserable when I was eating gluten, but neither was I happy.

Still not having clawed my way fully out of that sense of unhealthiness, I ponder from time to time whether or not it’s worth the extra hassle and expense. A year from now, perhaps even less, I hope to have that answer.

I went through a similar “poor me, I can’t have that hamburger” thing with the choice not to eat meat. There was ample opportunity to “sneak” meat anytime I wanted it; I lived alone, I was an adult with transportation. However, the motivation to be vegetarian was far stronger than the pull of the tasty dead animals.

Giving up pork products was absolutely cold-turkey (no pun intended, honestly, ugh.) Having read about and having seen truly soul-wrenching images on factory pig farms, there was absolutely no way I could be a part of it. Likewise, chicken. However, there was a burger joint in town that only purchased beef from humanely-raised, free-range cattle ranchers, and for a couple of weeks, I would go there and grab a burger once in awhile. I soon lost the taste for even that, though, and instead started buying their black bean veggie burgers, which were equally, if not more, tasty.

It was my choice, for good reasons, and I mostly didn’t even think twice about it for the next 7 or so years.

Everything so often comes down to motivation, whether it be external or internal. Most of my current motivation has to be internal; right now, the only person in my life telling me I’m doing a good job at anything is the ever-awesome Barbara. Even when I screw up and go shove a Qdoba burrito into my face, she tells me I’m going in the right direction. That helps, and it helps a lot.

I think everyone likes to be told they’re doing a good job, at least once in awhile. I’m surely not getting that at work right now, perhaps deservedly so, and my social interactions are pretty limited these days. Thus, it’s up to me to pat myself on the back and muster up the continued motivation to eat in healthier ways, to tend to the garden… heck, just to get out of bed in the morning.

When someone tells me I’m doing a good job, or that I’m appreciated, I work harder and thrive under that praise. Likewise, if someone’s only feedback to me is of things I’ve done wrong, I tend to wilt a bit and get into this feedback loop of “I’m not doing it right, why even try?”

This bespeaks a lacking in strength of character, I feel, and it’s certainly not one of my favorite things about myself. Still, it’s there, and the only thing I can do directly, the only thing I have control over is how well I do things, and what I tell myself about how I’m doing them.

Continued journeys down convoluted mental pathways. Le sigh.

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