I was fascinated by an article in the UK press by Oliver Burkeman.
Let me share part of it below.
I’m finding it hard to ‘resist’ eating the ‘wrong’ foods for my body chemistry while teaching and travelling. So much temptation.
So, I’m going to do an experiment …. From today I’m not going to say:
I can’t have that bagel
I’m going to say
I don’t do bagels!
I’ll keep you posted …. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be one of those nuances that makes a difference and offers support for any weight adjustment plan.
Language influences our conscious and unconscious and of course our energy, all way beyond the physical.
I’m setting the intention that implementing this subtle change of language, I will just float past the bagel plate at breakfast tomorrow, with the utmost ease!
Of course, those who know me will know that the ultimate test will be to float past the cheese tray!
Researchers at two US business schools wanted to examine the effects of self-talk employing the phrase "I can't" versus the phrase "I don't", in the context of personal health goals.
Suppose it's time for your weekly kick-boxing class, but the sofa looks inviting, so you try to talk yourself into action. Does it really matter if you say, "I can't miss my weekly class", or, "I don't miss my weekly class"?
You wouldn't have thought so, but it does. Findings published in the Journal of Consumer Research, highlight this….
In one, students seeking to eat more healthily were instructed to use either "I can't" or "I don't" each time they confronted a temptation. Upon leaving, they were offered a token of appreciation for taking part: a chocolate bar or a granola bar. Of those instructed to resist temptation using "I can't", 39% went for the healthier choice; of those using "I don't", the figure was 64%.
Try repeating each of those to yourself, perhaps with a more personally relevant example. Monitor your immediate emotional reactions and you'll probably see what's going on.
The "can't" framing implies an external restraint, which feels disempowering (even if you imposed the restraint on yourself). You might even be tempted to disobey solely to assert your independence.
To say that you "don't" do something, by contrast, suggests autonomy, as well as long-term commitment.
Who wouldn't rather be the self-directed, principled type who doesn't have more than one beer, or check email after 9pm, et cetera, than the rule-oppressed drudge who can't?