The Inner Voice: Accept the Free Goodies or Not?

A fierce battle rages within me each time unexpected goodies are offered my way.

Let me set up a scenario. I stop by Jim’s office to pick up a flier. Cake, brownies, and pie are strewn about the table in the employee lounge. He says, “We had a party in Brenda’s honor today. Help yourself.”

We now join the internal conversation, already in progress…

Voice number one: “Wow! Look at all those goodies. Go for it!”

Voice number two (the skinny one): “It’s merely food Scott! It’s not like you’ve never had chocolate cake before. Get a grip!”

V1: “But it’s free. That makes it better.”

V2: “It still has calories. Just because you don’t pay for it doesn’t mean it won’t make you fat.”

V1: “Ah, come on. Don’t be a stick in the mud. It’s just going to go to waste if you don’t eat it. Think of all the starving people who would jump at a chance for this much food.”

V2: “Just because it could be wasted doesn’t make me the garbage disposal. And, as for the starving people, I can donate to Food for People. But, if I eat this, they don’t gain weight — I do.”

V1: “OK, appealing to your sense of global values isn’t going anywhere. Let’s try this. How do you feel when you spend a whole lot of time looking for that perfect gift for your wife, and then she opens it, and you can tell by the look in her eyes that she’s disappointed?”

V2: “Let down, a little sad I guess.”

V1: “Right. And then you get distant from her. And she pulls back. And soon you’re having an argument about something that’s totally unrelated, like the toothpaste cap or the time you didn’t clean the grill when she asked you to.”

V1: “What’s your point?”

V2: “Well, it’s kind of like that, see? Jim and you are good friends as well as business associates, right?”

“Yes, so?”

“So, he’s thinking of you by offering a chance to share in the celebration of his workmate. By providing these treats, he’s really saying, ‘We don’t spend enough time together socially. I’m trying to make up for that by giving you these goodies. Please don’t turn your back on me. I’m feeling very vulnerable right now.’”

“All that is involved in this? I thought he was just being friendly.”

“Don’t be naive, men aren’t good at discussing emotions so it comes out other ways.”

“Well I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings. I guess a little bit is OK.”

As I reach for the plate, Jim says, “Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to talk to you. You do so well watching your weight. I was hoping for a few tips.”

My hand lurches to the right and I pour a cup of coffee instead, only to hear myself reply, “It’s simple actually. Just follow your inner voice.”

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