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  • Writer's pictureKarol Kosinski

Just One More


I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t resonate with similar scenarios.

Imagine. 

Sitting on a seti, contemplating whether to eat just one more biscuit, telling ourselves it’s the last one. Yet, before we know it, the entire packet is gone. 

Or perhaps, lighting up a cigarette for what we vow will be the last time, only to find ourselves trapped in the smoky embrace years later. 

For some it may be one moreglass of wine, bottle of bear, just one more episode of the netflix series or tiktok video. 

These moments, at first glance so insignificant, can actually be profound gateway into the complex nature of our minds. 





Instant Gratification vs. Long-Term Goals


Our internal dialogues often reflect a conflict between two aspects of our self: the part that seeks immediate pleasure and the part that aims for long-term well-being. 

This conflict is perfectly encapsulated in scenarios like the biscuit dilemma or the occasional cigarette turning into a long-term habit. Why does this happen?


One of the answer lies in the concept of instant gratification. Some believe that our brains are wired to seek immediate rewards. Consuming a delicious biscuit or smoking a cigarette provides an instant hit of pleasure, a quick release of dopamine in our brain that makes us feel good momentarily. This powerful reward signal can override our longer-term goals, like maintaining a healthy diet or quitting smoking.


However, it is important to think about the famous Marshmallow Test, an experiment  conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel in the 1960s. It offers insights into the benefits of long-term planning. In this study, children were offered a choice between one marshmallow immediately or two marshmallows if they could wait for 15 minutes. The results were telling, children who were able to wait, seemed to have better life outcomes measured by various indicators such as higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, better responses to stress, healthier social interactions, and better scores in a range of other life measures.


This research highlighted the importance of being able to delay gratification and exercise self-control, one of the things I truly believe in, discipline is a path to freedom. It demonstrates that the ability to plan for the future and resist immediate temptations is linked to success in various areas of life.


The Illusion of Control: Just This Once


A common theme in our internal dialogues is the illusion of control. We often tell ourselves, just this once, under the belief that we can limit ourselves to a single, isolated instance. Remember, our ego, in other words a vehicle that is used to navigate the world, is very good at manipulating us. It may try to persuade you, it will say, you’ve been good today, you deserve it, or how dare he/she, I am so annoynd right now, I will have a fag to calm down, I desrve that right now. However, each small decision to give in sets a precedent, slowly eroding our self-control. The more we yield to these impulses, the more we reinforce the habit loop. And in fact, we end up judging ourselves for giving in to our impulse, and we grieve to the power we have lost over being angry on something potentially really small.


Psychologically, this is known as the abstinence violation effect (AVE), where a person who deviates from their goal even slightly may feel they have failed entirely, leading to further indulgence instead of correction. This effect can turn a single lapse in judgement into a long-term failure. AVE uses a false logic to get gtip on you even further, sending a simple message, you can’t stop it. 


Listening to Our Inner Voices: Dialogue vs. Monologue


Understanding our internal dialogues requires recognising that they are often more of a monologue than a dialogue. One part of our mind might dominate, drowning out the more rational voice that advocates for our health and goals. To counter this, it's important to cultivate mindfulness, an awareness of our thoughts and feelings without getting swept away by them.


Meditation can transform our inner monologues into genuine dialogues. When we pause to observe our thoughts, rather than acting on them impulsively, we give space to our rational self. This can be as simple as taking a deep breath before reaching for another biscuit or stepping outside instead of lighting up a cigarette. These moments of pause allow the rational mind to come forward and remind us of our deeper values and longer-term aspirations.


Strategies to exercise discipline 


1. Setting Clear Boundaries: Decide in advance how you will handle temptations. For example, if you want to limit snacking, keep no more than a certain number of biscuits in the house.


2. Visualising the Future: Before acting on an impulse, visualise the positive outcomes of resisting, such as feeling healthier or saving money by not buying cigarettes. More on visualisation here.


3. Substitution, Not Just Elimination: A world doesn’t like the void. Replace a harmful habit with a beneficial one. If you’re tempted to snack excessively, try substituting with healthier options or engaging in a different activity, like walking.


4. Accountability: Share your goals with friends or family or write a letter to yourself! They can offer support and hold you accountable, which increases your chances of success.


Remember about Self-Compassion


It's essential to approach the internal dialogue with non-judgemental attitude, love and self-compassion. Beating yourself up for slipping only intensifies negative feelings and can drive you back to the very habits you’re trying to break. Instead, recognise that change is a process, and occasional setbacks are part of the human experience.


Every moment of struggle is also a moment of potential growth. Our internal dialogues, whether they’re about resisting another biscuit or another cigarette, are more than just temptations; they are opportunities to learn more about ourselves, to strengthen our self-discipline, and to align our actions more closely with our deepest values. By understanding and engaging with these dialogues constructively, we empower ourselves to make choices that lead to true well-being and fulfilment.


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