why having strong willpower can be annoying

When I walked in to work this morning (I had yesterday – Friday – off in exchange for working Saturday), there was an open packet of TimTams (dark chocolate, no less!) and a half-full box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates on the table in the tea room. Apparently these were brought in as a thank-you gift by the pharmacist who’d just finished up with us. Judging by the state of not-completely-consumed-ness, I’d guess she dropped by later in the afternoon, or she’d actually brought in a whole lot more food/chocolate, and that’s why there were left-overs.

Anyway, I’d gotten to work about 15-20 minutes early, so I was alone in the tea room for a bit, trying to ignore the chocolate bounty before me. The internal struggle that ensued sort of epitomises why I think having strong willpower can be annoying. Mostly it’s annoying to the part of me that just wants to eat chocolate and cake and ice-cream, and worry about calories later, but it’s still annoying.

I’m would credit my mum for this superhuman resistance to treats and discipline with portion control (where most people might cut a cake into eight pieces, she’ll divide it into about 16) but she’s also the one who tends to overfeed me (and the rest of the family) by preparing way too much food (there are always left-overs in the fridge). As such, I think I can only give her partial credit. The rest of it I’ll have to attribute to my own self-developed paranoia – not just about unnecessary calories but about atherosclerosis, bowel cancer, diabetes – pretty much anything that has some sort of causal link to poor diet (and that was just the start of the alphabet!)

Now I just want to make it clear that I’m not actually overtly paranoid about all those things; it’s just something that resides at the back of my mind. It’s the little voice that sometimes carries on a bit, but at other times it doesn’t even notice what I’m doing. Usually I can convince this voice that it’s ok if I just have one bite or one piece or one slice. It’s all part of the pleasure of life, and what is life without pleasures?

So it’s generally easy enough to quieten this voice, but then my willpower can sometimes take on a life of its own. It doesn’t need that little paranoid voice at all. “Just don’t eat it,” it will say, as if it was that simple. “You had breakfast dessert today; you don’t need this.” (For the record, I don’t always eat breakfast-dessert, but it seems that my willpower and paranoia both really like to sleep in, so, naturally, I’m going to take advantage of that. How they find out later, I don’t know.)

It’s hard being the adjudicator between willpower and gluttony, and it’s pretty annoying when I know that willpower is making a far better case than gluttony is.

…But now and then gluttony will put forward the case for my mental well-being.

So, you know what, today I had a TimTam and a Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Then I walked away from the tea room and didn’t look back.