Trap of thinking: how we deceive ourselves, not to achieve goals

Cela extra loaf, stroll the gym, I did not complete an important project. It seems willpower left us ... But really - we are allowed to imagine such behavior.

Trap of thinking: how we deceive ourselves, not to achieve goals

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The path to the ideal long and thorny. Why would we not sought - to quit smoking, lose weight, make more money or exercise - at some point we are bogged down and act contrary to the long-term goals. For the failure should be a sense of guilt: we are engaged in self-flagellation, accusing himself of laziness and lack of will. We do not notice that consciously tolerate failures - it is necessary to find an excuse. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal (Kelly McGonigal) identifies three basic strategies by which we deceive ourselves 1.

The reward for good behavior

Undesirable behavior - not always a sign of weakness or lack of willpower. Sometimes the opposite is true: a successful self provokes breakdown. If you behave properly - you work hard on a diet, refrain from smoking, - the feeling that you have earned the right to indulgence. But research shows - such an approach undermines motivation and encourage habits that you have tried to eradicate.

In 2013, Stanford University professor Benoit Monen (Benoît Monin) and Dale Miller (Dale T. Miller), together with Daniel Effron (Daniel A. Effron) from Northwestern University conducted a study. In a series of experiments involved the people who watched the weight and tried to lose weight. Group of subjects offered to recall the harmful products from which they abandoned in recent years. A week later it turned out - the band got worse follow the diet and allow yourself extra 2. Participants in the experiment so inspired by past merits that stopped closely follow the diet. They yielded impulsive impulses and rarely wonder how their actions are consistent with the big goal. Pride for good behavior in the past overshadowed dire consequences for future decisions.

The same is true for all areas of life in which you distinguish between good and bad behavior. Acting correctly, you become a trustworthy person in his own eyes. You start to trust more minute impulses, allowing yourself to unwanted behavior.

  • If you struggle with procrastination, then for the good work in the morning you want to reward yourself in the afternoon idleness.
  • If you are trying to train yourself to go to the gym, pull skip the next after a successful training you.

To justify undesirable behavior past achievements, we do not feel guilty for the violation. It seems logical: I'm well behaved, I deserve a reward. In fact, the logic in this. There is no calculator, which calculates to how well we behaved and what reward earned. We rely on gut feeling and find ourselves trapped in self-delusion - forget about the real goals and give in to temptation.

The sins against future Ratio

The second strategy is more sophisticated self-deception - we allow ourselves to sin "in credit". Today we are lazy, we put off important things to do or eat sweets, and tomorrow promise to go on a diet, join the gym and redo all the work.

Scientists from the name Baruch College (Baruch College) conducted a series of experiments on the study of consumer behavior. The standard menu of fast food experimenters added a useful alternative - fresh salad - and began to see how this will affect the choice. Paradoxically, most buyers have begun to choose the most high-calorie and harmful products from the 3. Opportunity to get closer to the goal of encouraging so that we take this feeling of joy from the actual operations. Self-control is weakened, and contrary to common sense, we choose the forbidden foods. However, in the future, we promise ourselves to do right.

  • Today'll smoke the whole pack, and stop smoking tomorrow.
  • Today eat three burgers, and tomorrow I will sit on a diet.
  • Today lowered all the money on shopping, and then all will not go to the shops.

The ability to act differently in the future reduces the guilt of the unwanted behavior. It seems to us - the current selection is relevant only today, but tomorrow it will be different.

marketing professor at the School of Business at the University of Wisconsin Robin Tanner (Robin Tanner) found out - by default people represent our future ideal. They imagine that in the future they will have a lot more time and effort to carry out all our plans 4.

Researchers have tried to help make the test more realistic predictions. Experimenters stressed - need a real forecast, not an ideal scenario. Did not help. Also, it does not load a retrospective analysis. When people have seen their real actions do not coincide with the objectives, they further ratcheted up the bar for the future - as if trying to compensate the shortcomings of the past.

We refuse to accept the reality, with all its limitations and disadvantages. We are waiting for the perfect moment to realize all our plans. The problem is that perfect moment does not occur, and plans are only in dreams.

of honey in a barrel of tar

The third strategy of self-justification - find positive aspects in negative behavior and a maximum focus on it. Are you trying to spend less money, but buying at a discount of 70% seems to be an excellent suggestion. Do you want to get out of debt, but open a new credit card for a good cause - a percentage of the amount spent will be deducted for charity. In an effort to lose weight you are buying low-fat foods and eat them by the ton. Studies show that people who are selected as the main course a useful option, often bought harmful side dishes, drinks and desserts. As a result, they consume more calories than those who are not trying to "save" on the main dish.

Businesses are aware of this effect and apply it in practice. It is enough to attach the correct label for the product or add the desired word in advertising - sales soar. We eat organic biscuit packs and feel great people who look after their health and weight. Dialed kilos falls out of focus.

faces the truth

Craving for instant gratification - an important part of the evolutionary mechanism that helps a person to survive for centuries. It can not be eradicated, but we can stop the self-justification.

  • Separate the real moral dilemmas of the fictional. Smoking, gluttony and lazy relaxing on the couch does not make you a bad person. As well as diet, refusal of cigarettes and classes at the gym are not elevate you to the rank of saints. No good behavior - no harmful remuneration.
  • Remember - tomorrow is not very different from today. At work, will continue to be a blockage, the house - a mess on the roads - traffic jams. The longer you follow the undesirable behavior, the more likely that you will continue it in the future.
  • Work on consistency. Do not try to eliminate undesirable behavior at all, try to reduce its variability. Smokes a certain number of cigarettes a day, eat the same amount of chocolate, prokrastiniruyte fixed time.
  • Focus on the main goal. Do not let the marketing tricks to fool you and take away in the opposite direction. Fleeting pleasure will result in great disappointment in the future.

1 K. McGonigal "The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It" (Avery, 2011).

2 D. Effron, B. Monin and D. Miller "The Unhealthy Road Not Taken: Licensing Indulgence By Exaggerating Counterfactual Sins", Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2013, vol. 49, № 3.

3 K. Wilcox, B. Vallen, L. Block and G. Fitzsimons "Vicarious Goal Fulfillment: How the Mere Presence of a Healthy Option Leads to an Ironically Unhealthy Decision", Journal of Consumer Research, 2009, vol. 36, № 3.

4 R. Tanner "Unrealistically Optimistic Consumers: a Selective Hypothesis Testing Account for Optimism in Predictions of Future Behavior" (Duke Dissertations, 2008).