In the September 7th newsletter and blog post, I talked about how we will do ANYTHING other than what is truly best for us in order to lose a few pounds and trim our waistline by a few inches.
So what’s the deal? Why are we so impulsive and irrational when it comes to our body image, and why is it so difficult to just eat a healthy diet? These are two excellent questions.
The primary motivating force behind all behavior lies in the psychological phenomenon known as the Pleasure Principle.1We are designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. It is the driving force behind all of our behaviors and actions. This impulse is so strong that we willingly betray our own better judgment to keep from feeling uncomfortable.
Just think about how marketing incorporates this principle to induce you into purchasing something you can’t afford and don’t really need. How? They incite fear and negative emotions (pain) then provide a solution to relieve your pain (pleasure). Double whammy and whoosh - the sale is guaranteed!
Example: “Are you tired of seeing your belly hang over your belt? Are you sick of feeling self-conscious every single day because of that extra 10 pounds you are carrying around your waistline? My name is Dr. VooDoo, and I have successfully treated thousands of overweight patients with Product X…” You know the drill. This is followed by testimonials and before/after photos which finish off the job of convincing you to buy the product so that you can get relief from the pain you are now suffering. It’s all made up, they are actors, the whole scenario is fake… and it works. You buy the product which may or may not be effective and you have likely wasted money you couldn’t afford to spend in the first place.
Changing your eating habits is subject to the same principle, except it’s the voices in your head that are conducting the sales pitch and response: “Ohhhh, doesn’t that triple chocolate layer cake look yummy?!! Uggghhh, I need that like I need a hole in my head… if I eat that, I will get fatter and feel guilty! But it will taste soooooo gooood!!!...” You are literally rallying back and forth over whether or not eating the cake will cause more pain than the pleasure you will receive by eating it. The strongest impulse usually wins, even if it is irrational, bad for you, or puts you in harm’s way.
The first step to overcoming this psychotic method of decision making is to recognize it for what it is. Acknowledge it then decide what to do based on what is truly in your best interest. Once you recognize what is going on, you can actively work toward managing your behaviors.
There are many methods available for changing behaviors such as reward systems, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy and re-training your associations.
I could go on and on about this topic as it is critical to taking control of unwanted, unhealthy behaviors. So if managing your impulses and subsequent behaviors is a problem for you, keep an eye out for future posts on this topic.
Also, in the near future, I will be conducting a video interview with a counselor who uses the techniques listed above to help people gain control of their behaviors so that they can rationally and consciously “decide” what to do rather than irrationally acting on impulse.
Thank you for reading today’s post. I hope you found it interesting.
Yours in health and well being,