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January 01, 2006



"6. Write your resolutions in confident, present-tense, and positive ways. Avoid things like "stop eating chocolate" or it will backfire and you will obsess about chocolate."

Ok...I have major trouble putting this one into action. I have food intolerances and need to stay away from certain things...how do I make that positive? I'm already obsessing....


Hi Essy! I guess it depends if you are avoiding something you crave or not. If you are using your self-discipline to avoid a food item you use two distinct functions. One is a monitoring process that constantly scans the environment, including TV commercials, for that item you are avoiding. The second is the operating process that is activated when the monitoring process finds the "forbiden" item. This process works hard at overriding the typical thoughts that follow the craving, like getting up to the fridge and getting that food. This works well, except for one thing... it takes lots of energy!

If you decide you don't need to control the thoughts because, say you already lost 10 lbs, the monitoring process is just as effective and people eat more than before. This is called the rebound effect. Also, if you are trying to self-regulate many things in your life, you get depleted and won't have enough energy to override the urge. If you have a stressful day, or had bad news, or something else bad happened, these things will deplete your resources and you won't be able to override the urges. However, the monitoring process is more of an automatic process, it requires little energy and so it keeps finding these items and giving you those thoughts.

So you radar system works great at alerting you of the things you are trying to avoid, but you don't have enough energy to override. Of course, the healthier you become, the more sleep you get, the less stress you have, the more energy you have and thus the easier it is to override the thoughts.

A better approach is to make intentions that are conditional. If I get hungry I will eat baby carrots. You say that to yourself confidently and in present tense. This trains the brain to make this an automatic response. A habit. Habits don't require much energy.

Does this makes sense? This is based on studies by Dr. Shortt Wegner and others on the suppression of exciting thoughts.

God bless!


Thanks Hector, it does make sense...I especially like the 'conditional intentions'. I usually don't have a plan in place, so I go for the thing that 'calls me' the loudest. Baby steps I guess.

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