When you buy food by the pound, you don’t want to pay for the parts you’re not going to eat. While I’m told a little fat adds flavor (I’m an open-minded vegetarian, but a vegetarian none-the-less) you don’t want to pay for ounces of the stuff that you’re just going to cut off and toss in the garbage.
Agreed. But then, why do we have such a commitment to hanging on to emotional fat?
What’s emotional fat?
It’s the stuff we put ourselves (and our friends and coworkers) through because we think it adds value. What’s the stuff? Well, the list is too long to hit all of them here, but here are some of the big ones:
- “Feeling bad”
Much like a dishonest butcher, we trick ourselves into thinking these add value:
- “If I feel bad then it means I really care.”
- “If I’m stressed (and let everyone around me know how STRESSED I am) then it means I’m really working hard.”
- “If I linger in guilt over something that happened (whether I had anything to do with it happening or not) then I can create the appearance of doing something about it.”
- “If I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed (and let everyone know it) then that means I’m really committed to the outcome.”
- “If I get myself motivated to do the work then I’ll really get things done.”
We kid ourselves into thinking that all this fat is somehow part of (or a necessary precondition for) doing what we want to get done (being a good person, doing well on the exam, landing the next big sale).
What if we cut the emotional fat?
It would look like a lot of hard work, for one, with perhaps a lot less attention (and recognition, perhaps) for doing it. We’d get a lot more done, I suspect. We’d live longer, have fewer heart attacks, enjoy lower blood pressure.
Hmmm. These sound an awful lot like the benefits of a low-fat diet.