Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rubber Band Effect

Try this experiment, stick your fingers in a rubber band and then hold your fingers open and hold it as long as possible. You are now exercising Willpower. Eventually you will release the rubber band. Willpower fails every time.

Imagine getting on a scale and seeing that you weigh 30 lbs more than you think you are supposed to weigh. Immediately there is discomfort. This is cognitive dissonance. There is a tension between reality and how we see ourselves that creates discomfort. So we decide to stop eating dessert and start working out. Then the next morning if you are still holding the rubber band open you will get up early, get dressed and go walking or stick an exercise dvd in and do your best to keep up. Unfortunately what happens then is that the next morning we are sore and can no longer hold the rubber band open or we forget altogether about the rubber band and commit to never getting on the scale again. This is the way we tend to deal with cognitive dissonance. Generally we snap back to our default state. Think of a jetliner on autopilot to Miami, sure you can grab the stick and guide it to South Dakota but as soon as you release the controls the autopilot will correct course to Miami. Our subconscious is our autopilot.

We must decide EXACTLY what we want with specificity and repeat and remind ourselves constantly in order to reprogram the autopilot in our brains. We must get on the scale as often as possible to ensure that we are constantly creating cognitive dissonance and tension. We must become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Even now you are feeling uncomfortable as you think about setting specific goals. What will you do? Will you avoid the scale or will you decide that today you will begin reprogramming your autopilot?