• jonnyj9

Day 41: Inconsistency-Avoidance Tendency

Today, I woke up and weighed myself. Weight is: 83.2Kg. Yesterday I consumed 593 calories below my BMR and did 892 calories of exercise above my BMR. Total deficit is 1485 calories.

I talk about methods of influence in my book, in the course, and in the 5 Day Habit Challenge. I do this because these influencers drive our behaviours until those behaviours become habits. Once they become habits, then they are automatic. But, you need to use the influencers in order to form the habit.

Inconsistency-Avoidance Tendency is a very strong influencer. Originally, this facilitated faster decisions, when they were life or death. This gave a survival advantage to people who made strong decisions and acted on them. 50 000 years ago, it could be a deadly mistake to change your mind on whether or not a sabre tooth tiger was dangerous, or decide to eat that berry that killed your buddy the other day. Changing your mind half way through a fight or flight decision had life ending consequences. Avoid inconsistency and stay alive.

Today it manifests itself in a different way. Most people don’t want to be seen as flip-floppy. When we make a decision, we like to think we made the best decision and will happily keep going even if all the evidence says otherwise. This tendency is used against us every day by many people.

In the modern world, there are very few life or death situations where we have no time to second guess, where we must stand by those decisions or face deadly consequences. So, it is OK to change your mind, and many people do. Gyms will fill up with new customers in January, and by February 1st, are back to normal. People constantly start fitness programs or weight loss programs, and quit soon after.

Benjamin Franklin frequently used this technique. He would maneuver an important person into doing him a small favour, so that Franklin would be then admired and trusted by that person, later a non-trustful Franklin would be inconsistent with previously held beliefs about Franklin.

Salesmen do this by getting you to say yes to small things that you cannot possibly say no to. Then, introduce bigger things that you also “need” to say yes to in order to maintain inner congruence. Finally, they throw the whopper at you. The Chinese used this method of obtaining confessions during Korean war. They would start off with little innocent confessions. As time progressed, the confessions became more well defined and broader in scope, because the confessor had an innate compulsion to be consistent with prior held beliefs.

To use this tendency to our advantage, we want our decision to have weight in our lives, we want repercussions for being inconsistent, we need to feel the weight of acting inconsistent with our decision. When you see the stoplight, you stop, because to act differently could end your life. You want to try and make the same feeling happen on your weightloss journey. Maybe we want to feel honourable in acting consistently with our decision. Or maybe living with a cognitive dissonance is too hard. Or maybe you will actually do something you don’t like if you fail to achieve a daily goal.

Another tactic is to misdirect you with rebuttals when you do manage to throw in a “no”. {The following is part of an actual sales script}

Agent: “Do you like walking?” or “Do you drive a car?”

You: {No matter what your answer:}

Agent: “That’s exactly why you need Accident and Health insurance! You could be {walking or driving} along, and wham! A{nother} car hits you. You end up in the hospital, then what!? See?! You need this stuff”

You are never given an opportunity to say no in this instance. The answer is always yes, and the salesman builds the consistency so you cannot say no.

Agent: Question?

You: Yes

Agent: Question?

You: Yes

Agent: Question?

You: Yes

Agent: Can I write this sales order up for you? Can I? Can I? (while nodding his head)

You: Yes

Now, how can we use this tendency to our advantage? Life experiences and genetic memories tend to give people subconsciously predetermined conclusions and attitudes. You can toy with your own subconscious inconsistency avoidance trigger and manipulate yourself.

  1. Use previous hour or day or week or month of positive action: I did it this long and now I want to stop!? My actions are consistent!

  2. Help other people lose weight, stay positive, remain consistent

  3. Add one small thing to each day

  4. Let the world know what you are doing, that way, when you feel like giving up, you know you will be going against what you told everyone. Be careful with this so as to not suffer confirmation bias.

  5. Today, if I make my goals, tomorrow I get a treat. No goals, no treat. (This is also punishment/reward, but helps build consistency)

Tough initiation ceremonies boost this tendency, so you could invent or participate in some initiation ceremony geared towards your weight loss journey. This is closely related to “You get what you pay for”. That way, you would feel like all the effort put into just getting to this point will be a waste should you quit now.

Many coaches have found that the principle of “See one, do one, teach one” reinforces a belief or action. You learn best by teaching. So form or join a club that is geared to weight loss or activities. Every day, someone else could be the leader.

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