Transitions are tough. I am so excited to be back in Michigan, close to family and working on our new home, however, I am still working on feeling settled. Of course there are still boxes to be unpacked and renovation projects which will just take time, but moreover I feel a bit dazed and transient. But I do know that we’ll get there. In the meantime, my biggest challenge proves to be remaining calm. I hate clutter, mess, and an unsettled routine. And although I find it relatively manageable to maintain my regular healthy habits when it comes to eating and exercise, I often struggle to maintain a positive outlook and pleasant attitude. As
somewhat of a total and complete control freak, not knowing how and when everything will be worked out creates anxiety and stress for me and I all too often let things blow out of proportion and lose my temper or become snappish. I know that for many people, and perhaps especially for me, moving constitutes one of my “hot points.”
Lately as a personal project, I’ve been learning about a variety of different personality theories. Personality, as defined by the APA, “refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving” and most theorists and laypeople alike regard it to be something which is a trait; that is relatively consistent over time and across situations. Most of the mainstream theories describe each unique personality type with individuals falling somewhere along a continuum of that type. One of the most highly regarded personality theories is of course, Costa and McCrae’s OCEAN or Five Factor Model, which uses factor analyses to identify one’s tendencies towards the “Big Five” – openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Naturally, each of five factors provide benefits as well as disadvantages ultimately contributing to who we are as individuals. Conscientiousness in particular is our tendency to control impulses and exhibit behaviors which facilitate goal-directed behavior. Traits within the conscientiousness factor might include being persistent, self-controlled or disciplined, predictable, consistent, planning or persevering. People who are high in conscientiousness have excellent ability to delay gratification, create and stick to a plan and generally exhibit strong willpower. Except when they don’t. As one of the world’s leading experts in self-control, Dr. Walter Mischel points out, it is far too common that we see quite famous, yet unexpected and catastrophic failures of willpower by public officials or those in positions of power. He says that quite often he is called upon to explain what has happened in such situations and argues that it is because we incorrectly assume that self-control is a consistent trait across allcircumstance for an individual. In reality, his work shows that we all have particular “hot points” or weak spots which can be seen reliably as triggers for lapses in judgment or self-command.
We often paint in broad strokes, assuming that if a person is honest or dishonest in a particular setting that is indicative of how he or she would behave in all or most other scenarios or that if they lack self-control in one area it predicts their ability to exercise it all others. While the level of an individual’s conscientiousness may predict this to some extent, there are many very public instances which prove this is not always the case – think Tiger Woods or Lance Armstrong who were long revered for their superior discipline but later showed signs of serious moral failures. Or me, who can manage to stick out a Whole30 or those final best ten counts of violent shaking at the barre but often cannot control my tongue from saying something I immediately regret. Mischel says that “whether or not self-control skills are used depends on a host of considerations, but how we perceive the situation and probable consequences, our motivation and goals, and the intensity of the temptation, are especially important… Willpower has been mischaracterized as something other than a ‘skill’ because it is not always exercised consistently over time. But like all skills, self-control skill is exercised only when we are motivated to use it. The skill is stable, but if the motivation changes, so does the behavior… Behavior is context-dependent.” His work showed that under closer observation, two similar boys at a summer camp responded with aggression not necessarily more than one or another but under different circumstances. Reliably, Anthony failed to control his temper when he was provoked by peers only, however his cohort Jimmy responded negatively to being warned or punished by adults. There were clear patterns of If/Then responses which “characterize most people when their behavior is closely examined. The behavioral signature of personality specifies what the individual does predictably Ifparticular situational triggers occur.” These “hot points” should therefore be regarded as bold, highlighted typeface which can be tracked via self-monitoring and “once you know the Ifstimuli and situations that trigger behaviors that you want to modify, you are positioned to change how you appraise and react to them.”
Knowing where my “hot points” exist allows me to implement better If/Then plans and strategies to improve my response to these situational triggers – something I am working on NOW as an 2019 initiative. I know that not only big transitions, like moving, but also not getting enough rest or eating in a way that I know doesn’t help me to feel my healthiest can all be potential “hot points” for me. So while I’m still working on the former, I have a better handle on the latter especially when doing so tastes as good as this Whole30 Pomme Anna – a perfect side dish which feels indulgent and cozy in this winter weather.
Whole30 Pomme Anna
Serves: 6 (2 stacks each)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Red or White Potatoes 1 lb. (450 g)
- Ghee or Clarified Butter .33 cup (75 g)
- Garlic Cloves, Minced 5 each
- Thyme – leaves pulled off of 3-4 stems
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C and melt the ghee in a small pan on over medium heat. Once melted, brush a small amount of ghee into each cup of a muffin tray to grease.
- Then add the garlic and thyme to pot and reduce the heat to the lowest setting while you prepare the potatoes.
- Slice the potatoes VERY thinly – I used a mandolin slicer for consistency at a 1 mm setting right into a large mixing bowl.
- Once finished slicing the potatoes, pour the melted ghee over the top and toss to combine well.
- Build a stack in each of the muffin trays, layering the slices on one another and ensuring they are tightly packed. You’ll want to make sure to incorporate the different size circles that will inevitably result from different potatoes accordingly to balance out the shape for each. Press down after every few layers and repeat until all 12 cups are filled and all potatoes are accounted for.
- Place in oven for 30 minutes to cook and then increase the heat to 425 F / 218 C for another 10 minutes to crispy up the top and sides of the stack. Remove from oven and use a spoon to scoop each stack out carefully to serve. Enjoy!