Talk is not just cheap – it will cost you

I read this article and it had some interesting research about how to go about making changes. We really have to pay attention to how we talk to ourselves and others about the changes we want to make, and if we are not going tobe careful, it is better not to talk at all. It is about weight loss but it applies to all human efforts to change. It also further validates the Camp system of negotiation which applies the principles that the researcher discovered in a systematic way.   As a therapist, it will help me to remember to remind patients to be very cautious about what they casually say they are going to do or be.

Full article:

There are other reasons to keep your weight loss plans to yourself.

Dr. Peter Gollwitzer, a professor of psychology at New York University, studies how goals and plans affect cognition and behavior. In his research paper, “When Intentions Go Public,” Gollwitzer describes how spilling the beans — and the resulting response — can change someone’s actions.

Everyone has what Gollwitzer terms an “identity goal” of some kind, whether it’s to be a good mother or a better scientist. In the case of weight loss, that goal is to be a successful dieter.

To reach an identity goal, you need indicators of your accomplishments. For a scientist it’s published research papers or a boss’ recognition. For a dieter it could be pounds dropped or praise from friends/family when they see how great you look.

Gollwitzer’s studies found that when you tell people what you intend to do, and that intention is acknowledged, the recognition qualifies as an indicator of accomplishment.

“The danger is that you feel that you have already reached the goal and because of that you don’t have to act on it any more,” Gollwitzer says.

In other words, when you tell a friend that you’re planning to drop 20 pounds and she notices your good intention, you no longer feel the need to follow through with exercise or healthy eating.

There are a number of ways to avoid this phenomenon.

“One is simple — you can keep your mouth shut,” Gollwitzer says. “Another one is to form different kinds of intentions, not only say what you want to do but also when, where and how you want to do it.”

Such planning helps create situational action control, he explains. When you find yourself at the gym before work, the situation you mentally mapped out controls your behavior instead of your intention to exercise more.


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