Using Blindspot Discovery for Real Behavioral Change.
Why can you say, and genuinely mean, “I don’t want to eat that cake,” but end up eating it anyway?
If there is only one person making decisions, what the heck are we doing? Choosing what you want to do should be easy… shouldn’t it?
The difference between what you want to do and what you actually do is a constant battle.
This problem is referred to as ‘Akrasia’ by pedantic philosophers.
Regardless, it is a very helpful concept to be aware of.
Your rational self will plan for the future and intend to go to the grocery store; your akrastic self will ignore that and watch Netflix instead. Your rational self will know going to the gym makes you feel so much better, but your akrastic self will blow it off at a moment's notice.
Controlling our akrastic self is a constant struggle. Our rational self can use our will to dominate our akrastic self for short periods of time, but it is exhausting. Like keeping a kid on a sugar-high focused on their homework.
So what can we do?
The trick is understanding that our akrastic self still does things for a reason, not just pure laziness and spite as it might seem. The reason is often just hidden from our rational self. This lack of awareness, these blindspots, cause us to misunderstand the real issue.
Why do we neglect to move? To save energy.
Why do we feel jealousy? To maintain social acceptance.
Why do we feel fear? To keep ourselves safe.
We can help others by understanding what they really need, but we often forget we can help ourselves in the same way. Just as others deserve compassion, so do our akrastic selves.
Some people even name their akrastic selves. “Jane” might be your inner six-year-old. If you know what Jane needs, and realize what Jane’s tendencies are, you can act to create an environment where Jane will thrive.
For example, Jane might not like going to the gym, but if you make going to the gym a game where you are constantly seeing visible improvement, you might change her mind.
You don’t have to name your akrasia for this to be effective, but awareness of Jane’s existence will help you master your own mind.
Next time you find Jane doing something she shouldn’t be doing, don’t chastise yourself (or Jane!) and instead take a moment to reflect: “Why am I doing this?” “What is the real reason behind my actions?” I guarantee you the real reason you picked up that donut is not hunger, and the real reason you got angry is not because someone else deserves your anger.