Another Student Tip on Self-Control
This is the second part of the article by our pro writers. Scheck the first one here.
Activate Your Limbic System to “Blacken” the Reason of Your Temptations
A limbic system is a powerful and ancient instrument that allowed our ancestors to survive by making them (not) want something very much. Led by the emotional call of a “hot” system, animals go to their goals persistently, as the will is the best motivator.
Sad news for people who unsuccessfully try to lose weight is that basic settings of a human are the following: when they see a chocolate plate, they feel exactly the wish, not the disgust or squeamishness.
But one can change those settings using a prefrontal cortex to create more powerful ones. To do that, you need to imagine consequences of the action you would like to avoid: this is how you activate the “hot” emotional system.
The brighter the image is, the stronger your will becomes.
If you want to watch another episode of a favorite movie series at 2 AM, imagine how “great” it would be to fail the important exam because of your lack of sleep. Imagine negative consequences as if they are about to strike you with all their might.
You can think out hundreds of possible paybacks for the temptation, but it is important to find the one which is really able to wound you.
For instance, you are a young girl and you can’t quit smoking, but you aren’t worried about getting a lung cancer at all. Well, then you’re worried about a groupmate disregarding you. Then, you need to imagine how weird will be your smell, how bad will be the shape of your teeth and the condition of skin because of smoking. Maybe, this picture will be more effective for you than the possibility of faster aging or anything else.
There is nothing to be shy of here: you can activate your limbic system and get results only if you orient on something that is important for you, not on the overall standard (“cancer is a weird thing”).
Once you find out what variation of a terrible future touches you the most, you need to “turn on” that picture in your mind every time you meet your temptation.
First you’ll forget to do that or turn on the needed thought too late after the chocolate plate is already eaten or fitness training already skipped. But if to keep trying, your mind can form needed neural connections and bind this or that temptation with a terrible picture pretty soon.