Category Archives: Self Development

Deep Inner Game DVD Set – David DeAngelo featuring Dr. Paul Dobransky and Richard aka Billy

​Around 2005-2007 I was getting out of a bad place. David Deangelo and Dr. Paul Dobransky taught me something deeper than this. One of the few videos I’ve still kept for personal development. Deep Inner Game DVD 6 to be specific ;o)

Dr. Paul Dobransky

Self esteem: You (and groups) have boundaries and doors. Depending on what you’d like to open doors to e.g. win-win situations. You decide!

This picture shows Colleagues, Women, Family and Community as the boundaries and the doors to them.

When it comes to groups like a company you want to join, the company has it’s own boundaries and so do the individuals in the company. Together they have a set of shared ideas (mission statement). If the individuals have poor boundaries like anger, it will come on to you.

Here an innovator (R&D) of the company is pushing the boundaries and if it sits well, that is how much the company’s boundary will grow too.

This shows what happens if the innovator goes too far and tries to pull in others. They end up forming a cult which wouldn’t last too long.

When you have been doing things that are ethically wrong and you use your observing ego to see that it’s not right. You decide to close the door on yourself after raising your conscience.

Intention needs a right balance of the 4. Education, Intuition, Conscience, Experience. Fun fact: The literal translation for Sin in Aramaic is to ‘miss the mark’ which is much more forgiving than what the shame the preacher man makes you feel.

Wussy concept – Has a lot of holes in his boundaries and would rather get a woman/mommy/daddy to get come in and take over the decision making. For decision making: Conscience vs. Intuition. Intellect: Education vs. Experience. Emotional energy: Well-being vs. Confidence. (Paras note: The well-being/nurturing and courage bit really helped me as those are mother and father traits respectively and I needed to be my own parent to fix a lot of things – Personal story here).

Individuation is where you start going out on your own to figure things out after your parents have taught you (if they’re present or parent figures) as best as they can. You start to explore different groups and figure out your boundaries. Until you’re totally independent of your parents. Connected to all these groups but still separate and distinct. I hope the text explains what the images can’t and vice versa.

Richard aka Billy


Made his mind up to lose weight no matter what it takes and in turn helped his game with women. A lot of it is inner game stuff. I’m not sure if I can share the videos of these as his big is really funny so will try to include it. Otherwise I’ll just summarise the inner game stuff.

Click to get the book

People have made phenomenal changes just by changing their belief systems. E.g. A man had a lip growth and was told it’s a curse and will die straight after so his whole appearance changed over night, lost weight, hair colour changed, etc. Until his follow up with the doctor who removed it and just said it was scar tissue after which he recovered.

You made up who you are so you can go in and see if that is still what you want to create. You are not who you think you are and you can start architecting yourself. Your bring is constantly telling you you will fail so rewrite it and instruct it the way you want.

His favourite affirmations are – Things just work out for me in life. My life just keeps getting better and better everyday. I am strong, powerful, committed and driven. I adapt and overcome at lightening speed. I’m comfortable with hot women being attracted to me (pre-supposition). I am the power. Build your own that speak to you.

Trust your unconscious.

Make a mental note of where you have come from and how strong you are.

Quote from the movie Heat (paraphrased): Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner..

On Emotional Control and Building Status

Stop seeking other peoples approval. If you’re not on your journey for you and your life then it’s all BS.

Self appointment. If you don’t live for you others will decide who you are and what you’re about. The self esteem you get from this does a lot. Martial arts reference about being committed to the path and not the destination. Masters have masters and they have masters. Practice and fail to get better as more knowledge is gained from the failures. The reason you’re not successful enough is because you’ve not failed enough, fail more and faster (Robert Kiyosaki). You train over and over until you do it unconsciously. (Paras note: This part took me back to when I really got into fixing myself and I have to admit all this information has become pretty basic to me but I am very grateful for it and we could always do with a refresher.)

Gaining Leverage: When you get angry ask if it’s worth getting angry about and learn from it or use it in better ways. Is it really worth it. Acceptance vs. resistance. Decision vs. indecision. Victim/injustice vs. life student.

Goes with the attitude of him going through things no one will ever face, know what others are too ignorant to comprehend and may look dumb for a while but in this path he’s get stronger and much further down the path than others will ever go. Taking pride in the failures.

Mind being like a garden metaphor (I love this bit): Everyday you have to pull weeds. Maybe you go through a time where you’re pulling weeds everyday. Then you go through a time where you’re hoeing ;oP. And after you’re doing hoeing, it’s time to plan your seed. (Pull weeds, not pull YOUR weed ;op).

The greats reinvent themselves. You can too.

Develop a panic room in your mind. A safe spot where nothing can truly hurt you.

People do stupid things. It’s them not you. Don’t internalise it or take it personally.

Let yourself be human and forgive yourself. Nearly everyone has been through what you’re going through at some point in their lives. (Reads a nice part from the Emotional Resilience book).

Click to get the DVD program

David DeAngelo – Deep Inner Game – DVD 6 – Chapters
Total film length : 01:52:20:03
Chapter 01 = 00:00:00:00 – Politics
Chapter 02 = 00:13:40:00 – Group Boundaries
Chapter 03 = 00:21:27:50 – Ethics
Chapter 04 = 00:33:19:00 – Forgiveness
Chapter 05 = 00:39:34:00 – Wussy
Chapter 06 = 00:47:38:50 – Individuation
Chapter 07 = 00:52:16:50 – Introduction
Chapter 08 = 00:55:13:00 – Richard
Chapter 09 = 01:01:53:50 – Who You’re Not
Chapter 10 = 01:09:35:50 – The Mind Virus
Chapter 11 = 01:18:03:00 – Emotional Control
Chapter 12 = 01:24:05:00 – Gaining Leverage
Chapter 13 = 01:31:57:00 – Depression
Chapter 14 = 01:42:39:00 – Let Yourself Be Human


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Insults and Putdowns – Dealing with them & Responses

The first part is about dealing with insults and putdowns while the second goes deeper into responses.

Part 1 – How to Deal With Insults and Put-Downs by Neel Burton
Click to get the book or ebook

Insults can be physical, such as punching, slapping, or spitting. More usually, they are verbal, whether direct or indirect. Examples of indirect verbal insults are jokes and ironic comments, backhanded compliments, mimicry, and false fascination. Ocular and facial expressions can substitute for speech; and things like a cold or constant stare, a false or exaggerated smile, or a raised eyebrow can, depending on their intention, also count as indirect verbal insults.

All of the above involve actively doing something, and therefore count as insults of commission. But insults of omission are equally if not more common. Examples of insults of omission are not inviting or including someone, not deferring to her age or rank, and not responding to her friendly gestures, including basic eye contact.

So, what is the best way of dealing with all these insults?

1. Anger.
This is the weakest possible response, and this for three main reasons. First, it shows that we take the insult, and therefore the insulter, seriously. Second, it suggests that there is truth in the insult. And third, it upsets and hurts us—which can invite further insults.

2. Acceptance
This may seem like a very weak response, but in many cases is actually the strongest response of all. When someone insults us, we ought to consider three things: whether the insult is true, who it came from, and why. If the insult is true or largely true, the person it came form is reasonable, and his motive is worthy, then the insult is not an insult but a statement of fact and, what’s more, one that is potentially very helpful to us. Thus, we seldom take offense at our teacher, parent, or best friend.

In general, if you respect the person who insulted you, you ought to give thought to the insult and learn as much as you can from it. On the other hand, if you think that the person who insulted you is unworthy of your consideration, you have no reason to take offense, just as you have no reason to take offense at a naughty child or barking dog. So whatever the case, you have no reason to take offense.

3. Returning the insult
There are several problems with the put-down, even if it is a very clever one. First, it does have to be clever, and, second, it has to occur to us at just the right moment. But even if we are as sharp as Oscar Wilde, a witty put-down is unlikely to be our best defence. The problem with the put-down, however witty it may be, is that it tends to equalize us with our insulter, raising him up to our level and bringing us down to his. This gives him and his insult far too much credibility. The witty put-down should only be used among friends, and only to add to the merriment. And it should be followed by something like a toast or a pat on the shoulder. In other words, it should only ever be used for humor.

4. Humor
Humor is an especially effective response for three reasons: it undermines the insult, it brings the audience (if any) on side, and it diffuses the tension of the situation. Here is an example of the effective use of humor. Cato the Younger, the Roman statesman and stoic philosopher, was pleading a case when his adversary Lentulus spat in his face. After wiping off the spittle, Cato said, ‘I will sweat to anyone, Lentulus, that people are wrong to say that you cannot use your mouth.’

Sometimes, it might even be appropriate to exaggerate or add to the insult so as to make a mockery of the insulter and, by extension, the insult: ‘Ah, if only had known me better, you would have found greater fault still!’

Click to get the book, ebook or audiobook

5. Ignoring the insult
One downside of humor is that it requires quick thinking. In contrast, ignoring the insulting is easier and, in fact, more powerful. One day, a boor struck Cato while he was out at the public baths. When the boor realized that it was Cato whom he had struck, he came to apologize. Instead of getting angry or accepting his apology, Cato replied, ‘I don’t remember being struck.’ Subtext: ‘You are so insignificant that I don’t even care to register your apology, let alone take offense at your insult.’

In conclusion, we need never take offense at an insult. Offense exists not in the insult but in our reaction to it, and our reactions are completely within our control. It is unreasonable to expect a boor to be anything but a boor; if we take offense at his bad behaviour, we have only ourselves to blame.

Acknowledgement: The principal ideas and examples in this chapter are from A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine.

Part 2 – First-Class Responses to Second-Class Putdowns By Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
Click to get the book or ebook

Wouldn’t it be great if people went out of their way to appreciate what you did right instead of berating you for what you did wrong? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if people nixed their insults, squelched their criticisms and, instead, supported and encouraged you? Before you interrupt my starry-eyed fantasy, let me enjoy my moment of reverie.

Okay, micro-vacation over. Back to reality, where people blame and criticize all the time — and that’s on their good days! On their bad days, they throw in insults, curses, ridicule and humiliation.

When you’re on the receiving end of such put-downs, how should you respond?

Most people are familiar with only three strategies:
– Explain or justify why you did what you did
– Respond offensively by attacking the attacker.
– Say nothing and silently stew.

Such responses frequently result in attacks and counterattacks or passive-aggressive behavior laced with blame and shame. Thus, it’s a good idea to expand your repertoire of responses. Here are seven ideas for you to try on:

1. Agree with what’s been said. Disagree with the negative value judgment.
“Yes, I agree. My room is a mess. No need to call me names, though. I’ll clean it up this evening. Promise.”

2. Respond to what’s happening (the process), not to what was said(the content).
“I can see you’re upset with me. Can you calmly explain what I did that’s bothering you?”

3. Agree that you did something wrong and apologize.
“Yes, I should have called earlier to cancel. I apologize. I’d like to set another date now if that’s OK with you.”

4. Disagree but try to understand the other person’s viewpoint.
“I didn’t think I did anything wrong but I see you’re upset. Tell me more about what’s upsetting to you so I can understand.”

5. Enlighten the person about your sensitivities.
“I feel demeaned when you use that tone of voice with me. You may think there’s nothing wrong with it, but it feels patronizing to me.”

6. Offer the person another way to phrase what he said.
“I don’t mind if you call me ‘sensitive’ but it feels like a putdown when you say I’m ‘overly sensitive.’

7. Be succinct.
Often, the less you say, the more powerful your message. “The name you just called me is totally unacceptable. I don’t deserve to be treated that way.”

If you believe that you’ve been unfairly put down, your goal should be to respond with valuable, constructive information in a confident, strong tone of voice.

You may also find this post helpful – How to Handle Criticism and Negativity


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Excellent Talk on Negotiations – How Creatives Should Negotiate by Ramit Sethi

Excellent Talk on Negotiations – How Creatives Should Negotiate by Ramit Sethi

Click to get the book, ebook or audiobook

My Notes:
– Reframes negotiating as a good thing and you can use it anywhere! Gyms, credit cards, phone companies, etc.
– Gives you scrips you can good. Links with other goodies below.
– Build rapport by talking about how long you’ve been with them. Stay cool.
– Ask what else can they do or offer.
– What to do when others negotiate with you.
– Ask open ended questions not yes or no questions.
– In a job interview never answer salary requirements question.
– Women find it harder to ask but they also smile more which helps.
– How to take or turn down offers that are close to what you do like wedding photography. I don’t have the equipment right now, I’m not an expert but I’ll try.
– Don’t feel bad for charging what your worth is and first sell yourself to yourself. Creatives should not underestimate themselves. Don’t feel bad monetising your work. Don’t defend yourself, take it or leave it.
– Start of with an hourly rate and see what competitors charge.
– When you work for free tell them what your normal rate is and say you’re doing it because you want 3 referrals or whatever condition you decide because sometimes there are other things more valuable than money.
– Be prepared to answer ‘your greatest weakness’ question. Tell a good story as humans cannot stop listening to a good story.

Show notes from original post on Tim’s blog – http://tim.blog/2016/06/15/how-creatives-should-negotiate/
Optimizing your spending with credit card companies, cable and telephone providers, the gym — you name it. [07:46]
Ramit’s word-for-word negotiation script (tested with tens of thousands of people and multiple companies). [11:43]
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty about negotiating. [13:01]
Mock negotiation (waiving a credit card late fee). [14:50]
The importance of rapport. [17:28]
Is rent negotiable? [18:50]
Negotiating even when you’ve already got the best price in town. [21:21]
How can you negotiate if you don’t have a perfect track record or the advantage of being a long-time customer? [22:28]
What to do when clients use your negotiation tactics on you? [23:18]
Are there gender differences in negotiation? [25:32]
How to answer the “What are your salary requirements?” question. [28:19]
The difference between theory and practice in negotiation. [31:21]
Your credit card was just sold to a new company. How long should you wait to negotiate with the new company? [31:55]
Can you negotiate insurance? [33:34]
Can you negotiate with monopolies? [34:32]
What Ramit learned by videotaping his negotiation style that changed everything. [35:43]
Why being “too busy” is a good problem for creatives to have. [43:08]
How to overcome the mindset of “I hate selling myself.” [43:53]
Understanding the needs of your client base, upping your rate, and justifying it (to yourself) without guilt. [50:25]
When you’re comfortable with your rates, you can be okay when clients say “No thanks.” [53:54]
Finding ways to overdeliver. [56:40]
How do introverts talk business? [57:47]
How much should you charge? [59:12]
Should you ever work for free? [1:00:40]
How to go from one client to many. [1:05:55]
How do you research what your competitors are charging when many of them don’t discuss it until they’re trying to close a sale? [1:08:10]
How do you handle price shoppers? [1:10:41]
For hourly consulting, is it better to price in packages? [1:13:22]
Do you have to tell a story to convey emotion every time you’re pitching a client? [1:14:52]
How powerful is a smile? [1:17:35]
How to answer, “What is your greatest weakness?” [1:20:56]
Reiterating the importance of storytelling. [1:26:44]
How to answer the “Among all candidates, why should I choose you?” question. [1:28:13]
How can you practice? [1:36:14]

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How to raise kinder, less entitled kids (according to science)

Author: Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist with the graduate school of education, and the Making Caring Common Project have come up with recommendations about how to raise children to become caring, respectful and responsible adults.

1. Make caring for others a priority

Why? Parents tend to prioritize their children’s happiness and achievements over their children’s concern for others. But children need to learn to balance their needs with the needs of others, whether it’s passing the ball to a teammate or deciding to stand up for friend who is being bullied.

How? Children need to hear from parents that caring for others is a top priority. A big part of that is holding children to high ethical expectations, such as honoring their commitments, even if it makes them unhappy. For example, before kids quit a sports team, band, or a friendship, we should ask them to consider their obligations to the group or the friend and encourage them to work out problems before quitting.

Try this
• Instead of saying to your kids: “The most important thing is that you’re happy,” say “The most important thing is that you’re kind.”
• Make sure that your older children always address others respectfully, even when they’re tired, distracted, or angry.
• Emphasize caring when you interact with other key adults in your children’s lives. For example, ask teachers whether your children are good community members at school.

2. Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude

Why? It’s never too late to become a good person, but it won’t happen on its own. Children need to practice caring for others and expressing gratitude for those who care for them and contribute to others’ lives. Studies show that people who are in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving—and they’re also more likely to be happy and healthy.

How? Learning to be caring is like learning to play a sport or an instrument. Daily repetition—whether it’s a helping a friend with homework, pitching in around the house, or having a classroom job—make caring second nature and develop and hone youth’s caregiving capacities. Learning gratitude similarly involves regularly practicing it.

Try this
• Don’t reward your child for every act of helpfulness, such as clearing the dinner table. We should expect our kids to help around the house, with siblings, and with neighbors and only reward uncommon acts of kindness.
• Talk to your child about caring and uncaring acts they see on television and about acts of justice and injustice they might witness or hear about in the news.
• Make gratitude a daily ritual at dinnertime, bedtime, in the car, or on the subway. Express thanks for those who contribute to us and others in large and small ways.

3. Expand your child’s circle of concern

Why? Almost all children care about a small circle of their families and friends. Our challenge is help our children learn to care about someone outside that circle, such as the new kid in class, someone who doesn’t speak their language, the school custodian, or someone who lives in a distant country.

How? Children need to learn to zoom in, by listening closely and attending to those in their immediate circle, and to zoom out, by taking in the big picture and considering the many perspectives of the people they interact with daily, including those who are vulnerable. They also need to consider how their
decisions, such as quitting a sports team or a band, can ripple out and harm various members of their communities. Especially in our more global world, children need to develop concern for people who live in very different cultures and communities than their own.

Try this
• Make sure your children are friendly and grateful with all the people in their daily lives, such as a bus driver or a waitress.
• Encourage children to care for those who are vulnerable. Give children some simple ideas for stepping into the “caring and courage zone,” like comforting a classmate who was teased.
• Use a newspaper or TV story to encourage your child to think about hardships faced by children in another country.

4. Be a strong moral role model and mentor

Why? Children learn ethical values by watching the actions of adults they respect. They also learn values by thinking through ethical dilemmas with adults, e.g. “Should I invite a new neighbor to my birthday party when my best friend doesn’t like her?”

How? Being a moral role model and mentor means that we need to practice honesty, fairness, and caring ourselves. But it doesn’t mean being perfect all the time. For our children to respect and trust us, we need to acknowledge our mistakes and flaws. We also need to respect children’s thinking and listen
to their perspectives, demonstrating to them how we want them to engage others.

Try this
• Model caring for others by doing community service at least once a month. Even better, do this service with your child.
• Give your child an ethical dilemma at dinner or ask your child about dilemmas they’ve faced.

5. Guide children in managing destructive feelings

Why? Often the ability to care for others is overwhelmed by anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings.

How? We need to teach children that all feelings are okay, but some ways of dealing with them are not helpful. Children need our help learning to cope with these feelings in productive ways.

Try this
Here’s a simple way to teach your kids to calm down: ask your child to stop, take a deep breath through the nose and exhale through the mouth, and count to five. Practice when your child is calm. Then, when you see her getting upset, remind her about the steps and do them with her. After a while she’ll start to do it on her own so that she can express her feelings in a helpful and appropriate way.

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The myth of self-control & Here’s what actually works … thanks Poppy

“THERE’S A STRONG ASSUMPTION STILL THAT EXERTING SELF-CONTROL IS BENEFICIAL … AND WE’RE SHOWING IN THE LONG TERM, IT’S NOT”

Studies have found that trying to teach people to resist temptation either only has short-term gains or can be an outright failure. “We don’t seem to be all that good at [self-control],” Brian Galla, a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, says.

If we accept that brute willpower doesn’t work, we can feel less bad about ourselves when we succumb to temptation. And we might also be able refocus our efforts on solving problems like obesity. A recent national survey from the University of Chicago finds that 75 percent of Americans say a lack of willpower is a barrier to weight loss. And yet the emerging scientific consensus is that the obesity crisis is the result of a number of factors, including genes and the food environment — and, crucially, not a lack of willpower. 

If we could stop worshiping self-control, maybe we could start thinking about diluting the power of temptation — and helping people meet their goals in new ways with less effort. 

The case against willpower

 Photo by Rochelle Brodin/Getty Images for De Re Gallery

Many of us assume that if we want to make big changes in our lives, we have to sweat for it. But if, for example, the change is to eat fewer sweets, and then you find yourself in front of a pile of cookies, researchers say the pile of cookies has already won. 

“Our prototypical model of self-control is angel on one side and devil on the other, and they battle it out,” Fujita says. “We tend to think of people with strong willpower as people who are able to fight this battle effectively. Actually, the people who are really good at self-control never have these battles in the first place.” 

This idea was crystallized in the results of a 2011 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The study tracked 205 people for one week in Germany. The study participants were given BlackBerrys that would go off at random, asking them questions about what desires, temptations, and self-control they were experiencing in the moment. 

The paper stumbled on a paradox: The people who were the best at self-control — the ones who most readily agreed to survey questions like “I am good at resisting temptations” — reported fewer temptations throughout the study period. 

To put it more simply: The people who said they excel at self-control were hardly using it at all. Psychologists Marina Milyavskaya and Michael Inzlicht recently confirmed and expanded on this idea. In their study, they monitored 159 students at McGill University in Canada in a similar manner for a week.

If resisting temptation is a virtue, then more resistance should lead to greater achievement, right? That’s not what the results, pending publication in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Sciencefound. 

The students who exerted more self-control were not more successful in accomplishing their goals. It was the students who experienced fewer temptations overall who were more successful when the researchers checked back in at the end of the semester. What’s more, the people who exercised more effortful self-control also reported feeling more depleted. So not only were they not meeting their goals, they were also exhausted from trying. 

“There’s a strong assumption still that exerting self-control is beneficial,” Milyavskaya, a professor at Carleton University, tells me. “And we’re showing in the long term, it’s not.” 

What we can learn from people who are good at self-control

 Max Griboedov / Shutterstock

So who are these people who are rarely tested by temptations? And what can we learn from them? There are a few overlapping lessons from this new science:

1) People who are better at self-control actually enjoy the activities some of us resist— like eating healthy, studying, or exercising.

So engaging in these activities isn’t a chore for them. It’s fun. “‘Want-to’ goals are more likely to be obtained than ‘have-to’ goals,” Milyavskaya says. “Want-to goals lead to experiences of fewer temptations. It’s easier to pursue those goals. It feels more effortless.”

If you’re running because you “have to” get in shape, but find running to be a miserable activity, you’re probably not going to keep it up. That means than an activity you like is more likely to be repeated than an activity you hate. 

2) People who are good at self-control have learned better habits 

In 2015, psychologists Brian Galla and Angela Duckworth published a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, finding across six studies and more than 2,000 participants that people who are good at self-control also tend to have good habits — like exercising regularly, eating healthy, sleeping well, and studying.

“People who are good at self-control … seem to be structuring their lives in a way to avoid having to make a self-control decision in the first place,” Galla tells me. And structuring your life is a skill. People who do the same activity — like running or meditating — at the same time each day have an easier time accomplishing their goals, he says. Not because of their willpower, but because the routine makes it easier. 

A trick to wake up more quickly in the morning is to set the alarm on the other side of the room. That’s not in-the-moment willpower at play. It’s planning.

This theory harks back to one of the classic studies on self-control: Walter Mischel’s “marshmallow test,” conducted in the 1960s and ’70s. In these tests, kids were told they could either eat one marshmallow sitting in front of them immediately or eat two later. The ability to resist was found to correlate with all sorts of positive life outcomes, like SAT scores and BMIs. But the kids who were best at the test weren’t necessarily intrinsically better at resisting temptation. They might have been employing a critical strategy. 

“Mischel has consistently found that the crucial factor in delaying gratification is the ability to change your perception of the object or action you want to resist,” the New Yorker reportedin 2014. That means kids who avoided eating the first marshmallow would find ways not to look at the candy, or imagine it as something else. 

“The really good dieter wouldn’t buy a cupcake,” Fujita explains. “They wouldn’t have passed in front of a bakery; when they saw the cupcake, they would have figured out a way to say yuck instead of yum; they might have an automatic reaction of moving away instead of moving close.” 

3) Some people just experience fewer temptations 

Our dispositions are determined in part by our genetics. Some people are hungrier than others. Some people love gambling and shopping. People high in conscientiousness — a personality trait largely set by genetics — tend to be more vigilant students and tend to be healthier. When it comes to self-control, they won the genetic lottery. 

4) It’s easier to have self-control when you’re wealthy 

When Mischel’s marshmallow test is repeated on poorer kids, there’s a clear trend: They perform worse, and appear less able to resist the treat in front of them. 

But there’s a good reason for this. As University of Oregon neuroscientist Elliot Berkman argues, people who grow up in poverty are more likely to focus on immediate rewards than long-term rewards. Because when you’re poor, the future is less certain. 

Researchers want to figure out if self-control could feel effortless

 Tetiana Yurchenko / Shutterstock

The new research on self-control demonstrates that eating an extra slice of cake isn’t a moral failing. It’s what we ought to expect when a hungry person is in front of a slice of cake. “Self-control isn’t a special moral muscle,” Galla says. It’s like any decision. And to improve the decision, we need to improve the environment, and give people the skills needed to avoid cake in the first place. 

“There are many ways of achieving successful self-control, and we’ve really only been looking at one of them,” which is effortful restraint, Berkman tells me. The previous leading theory on willpower, called ego depletion, has recently come under intense scrutiny for not replicating.

(Berkman argues that the term “self-control” ought to be abolished altogether. “It’s no different than any other decision making,” he says.)

The new research isn’t yet conclusive on whether it’s really possible to teach people the skills needed to make self-control feel effortless. More work needs to be done — designing interventions and evaluating their outcomes over time. But it at least gives researchers a fresh perspective to test out new solutions. 

In Berkman’s lab, he’s testing out an idea called “motivational boost.” Participants write essays explaining how their goals (like losing weight) fit into their core values. Berkman will periodically text study participants to remind them why their goals matter, which may increase motivation. “We are still gathering data, but I cannot say yet whether it works or not,” he says. 

Another intriguing idea is called “temptation bundling,” in which people make activities more enjoyable by adding a fun component to them. One paper showed that participants were more likely to work out when they could listen to an audio copy of The Hunger Games while at the gym. 

Researchers are excited about their new perspective on self-control. “It’s exciting because we’re maybe [about to] break through on a whole variety of new strategies and interventions that we would have never thought about,” Galla says. He and others are looking beyond the “just say no” approach of the past to boost motivation with the help of smartphone apps and other technology.

This is not to say all effortful restraint is useless, but rather that it should be seen as a last-ditch effort to save ourselves from bad behavior. 

“Because even if the angel loses most of the time, there’s a chance every now and again the angel will win,” Fujita says. “It’s a defense of last resort.”

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