爱思英语编者按:意志力就是能抑制冲动和欲望的能力。当短暂的满足感与长期的目标对抗时,那是很威胁人的。我们很想吃油炸圈饼,往自助售货机上再投一美元,再来一杯饮料,或者指派老板为你服务。一时放纵大吃特吃会给你带来很多后续问题,但当时确实忍不住。那我该怎么办呐?有时你会放纵,有时会意志坚定,意志力不是永恒不变的。它不是一件你一直拥有的或者一直未曾拥有过的东西,而是有时你能掌控它,有时却失去它。

Four Things That Undermine Your Willpower

Sherry Pagoto

Willpower is the ability to inhibit an impulse or desire. It is threatened when an immediate pleasure is in competition with a long-term goal. We want to eat the doughnut, put another dollar in the slot machine, have one more drink, or tell off the boss, but know in the long run these may not be the best decisions. Pigging out right now will create problems for me later, but I really want to, so what should I do? Sometimes you cave, other times you hold strong.  Willpower is not a constant. It is not the case that you either have it or you don't, rather it is the case that sometimes you have it and sometimes you don't. The big question is this: what makes us cave and what makes us strong? In this post I will discuss the 4 most important reasons we cave. By avoiding these traps, you will more easily exercise your willpower, which will move you closer to achieving what you really want in life.

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1. Psychological Pain—Stress, depression, anger, and anxiety are the “pain” emotions. Just like physical pain, we are highly motivated to escape psychological pain.  If you touch a hot stove, you will immediately and instinctively withdraw your hand. We just as readily and instinctively withdraw from psychological pain, only it is never as easy as just removing your hand from heat. Immediate pleasures are very alluring in moments of pain because they take on one additional purpose—they take the edge off the pain. Pain doubles the power of immediate pleasure, making you very vulnerable to failures of willpower. The research literature consistently shows that psychological pain is the most significant factor affecting loss of control across all pleasure-seeking behaviors, whether it is drinking, smoking, eating, gambling, sex, drugs, etc. If you have a vice, pain will put you in the car and drive you to it. If you know someone who is spinning out of control, you can bet they are engulfed in pain that they are desperately attempting to escape. If you are stuck in a cycle of psychological pain, focus on getting to the source of your pain or else it will gradually erode your self-control.

2. Deprivation—Deprivation is a prolonged state of being restricted from something that is highly desirable. The old adage, absence makes the heart grow fonder, is true in many senses. This is precisely why strict diets that have forbidden foods almost always fail. Eventually, we cave.  Why? Deprivation increases the power of what we desire.  The tension between the immediate pleasure and long-term consequence tips in favor of the immediate pleasure, making that negotiation more difficult. What to do?  Moderation is key but be aware of the fine line between moderation and indulgence. Moderation doesn’t mean that you should consume every unhealthy food you can think of in moderation (e.g., donuts, pizza, cheeseburgers, candy, cookies, etc) because if one truly ate this way they could be eating unhealthy foods all day long. The object is to practice moderation for the entirety of unhealthy foods. Eat healthy almost always, but put nothing off limits or you risk empowering your temptations. (Note that moderation often does not work in the case of addictive behaviors. In that case, abstinence may be necessary for feelings of deprivation to eventually cease.)

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3. Availability—Resisting chocolate cake is a cinch when you are stranded on a desert island. I’m a willpower pro on a desert island! When temptations are not available, willpower is a nonissue. Nobody eats ice cream they don’t have. Design your life like that desert island, by distancing yourself from the things that push your pleasure buttons. Get them out of the house. The presence of temptations not only increases your failure rate but also distracts you by forcing you to spend energy on a constant mental struggle when your attention could be better spent on...well...life!

4. Rationalization and Bargaining—This one can be the trickiest to overcome. We tell ourselves our best lies. And we are the biggest believers of our own BS. I mentioned above that willpower is when the immediate pleasure is in competition with a long-term consequence. We use rationalization to talk ourselves out of that being the current state. We argue that there will be no negative long-term consequence so there is no need to resist the current temptation. What is one doughnut?  A few drinks isn’t going to hurt anything!  I’m not suggesting you live a life that is lacking in indulgences, but be careful that rationalization can be used at too many decision points, slowly eroding your ability to ever resist. Bargaining works the same way. We strike a deal with ourselves that we will work to offset the consequences later. "I’m going to eat and drink too much tonight, but it will be ok because I’m going to workout extra this weekend."  If you find yourself often promising to clean up your messes later, you are bargaining. The problem is that "later” is also filled with temptations. The messes compound and the time to clean them up just never comes. I recommend paying all debts in advance. If you know you are going to consume 1,000 more calories at dinner than usual, make a plan to have accounted for it before the time comes (a reasonable plan that involves both exercise and diet, not by starving yourself in advance). By planning in advance, there is no issue of willpower, no need to bargain, and no mess to clean up. The good news is that each and every one of us has control over our willpower—if we want it. Take control of your willpower or else it may take control of you.

摧毁意志力的四样东西

叶落秋知/译

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意志力就是能抑制冲动和欲望的能力。当短暂的满足感与长期的目标对抗时,那是很威胁人的。我们很想吃油炸圈饼,往自助售货机上再投一美元,再来一杯饮料,或者指派老板为你服务。一时放纵大吃特吃会给你带来很多后续问题,但当时确实忍不住。那我该怎么办呐?有时你会放纵,有时会意志坚定,意志力不是永恒不变的。它不是一件你一直拥有的或者一直未曾拥有过的东西,而是有时你能掌控它,有时却失去它。关键的问题是什么让我们变得堕落而又是什么让我们坚定。在这篇文章里,我想谈谈使我们堕落的关键的四个原因。通过避免这些陷阱,你会更容易增强自己的意志力,更易实现生活中我们所追求的目标。

1、心理上的伤痛——压力,绝望,愤怒,焦虑是感情上的几种伤痛。正如身体上的伤痛一样,我们极力地去避免心灵上的伤痛。如果你无意触碰到烤炉,你会立即本能地缩回手。同样,我们只是本能地从心理痛苦中抽身而去,但是永远不可能像遇热而收缩回来的手那么简单。短暂的欢愉是非常吸引人的,因为它们被附加了额外的目的----消除痛苦。痛苦能成倍地增加你对那短暂快乐的渴望。在你毫无戒备的时候趁虚而入,毅力巨无从谈起。调查一致认为,心理上的痛苦是大多数人在寻欢作乐这些行为上失控的主要原因,像酗酒,抽烟,贪吃,赌博,滥性,吸毒等。如果你染上这些恶习,痛苦会使你失去理智,并让你陷入其中不可自拔。如果你认识的某些人茫然不知所措,失去控制,你可以确信他们已经完全被痛苦所吞噬,并且他们在拼命地挣扎逃脱。如果你深陷情感的苦海中,那就赶紧集中精力找到痛苦的根源,否则,它会慢慢侵蚀你的自制力。

2、剥夺。剥夺就是被限制,被强制远离内心所极度渴望的事物的一种持久的状态。有句格言这样说:“越得不到,你内心就越渴望得到”。在很多情况下,经验证是正确的。这就是严格的节食方案通常失败的原因。最终我们还是屈服了,堕落了。为什么呐?禁止令增强了我们追求的欲望。短暂的愉悦与长久的后果间的拉力更倾向与即时的放松,这使意志力增强的这个过程更为困难。究竟该该怎么办呐?把握适度是关键,留意适度与放任之间的这个界限。适度可不是放任你吃光你只要能想得到的所有垃圾食品,(例如油炸圈饼,乳酪汉堡,糖果,饼干等)。因为如果一个人以这种方式去饮食,那他整天都消耗掉这么多没营养的食品。我们的目标就是锻炼能在这些没营养的东西面前保持一个度。经常吃健康食品,但是偶尔也可以把所有的限制抛之脑后,或者是好好地享用引诱你的那些食品(注意适度在上了瘾的行为上是不起作用的。在那种情况下,为了达到最后的目的,节制是很有必要的。)

3、可行性。当你被困在荒岛上时,忍受巧克力蛋糕的诱惑是容易的事。我赞成“孤岛训练法”来增强个人意志力。当诱惑不存在时,毅力就无从谈起。没人会吃他们不可能拥有的冰淇淋。假设你在荒岛上那样来规划自己的生活。疏远那些刺激你快乐神经的东西,把他们清理出去。因为那些诱惑的存在,不仅会提高你自制失败的几率,还会使你分心,通过强迫你经常在心理斗争上花费精力,而你的这些精力若花在生活上,会让你过上更好的生活。

4、合理化和讨价还价。这一条是最难克服的。我们经常会给自己找很多借口。其实我们自己最了解自己。上述已提到:“毅力是一时之乐与后续结果较量的产物。所以我们采取合理化方法告诉自己要走出那个难以抉择的困境。我们有时会与自己内心做斗争。认为没有消极的持续长久的后果,所以我们没必要拒绝现时的诱惑与快乐。一个油炸圈饼能怎样?偶尔的饮酒不会伤害我们的身子。我不是要求你们过没有纵欢的生活,但是要注意合理的松懈不能被频繁地作为你的借口,它会慢慢抵消你的能力直至不在反抗。讨价还价以同样的方式起作用。常与自己妥协,经常会这样安慰自己,先放纵一下,之后再把这个损失弥补过来。今晚我要大吃特吃,那没事的,因为周末要加班。如果你发现自己经常给自己许诺:“我之后会好好清理脏乱不堪的杂物。”那么,你就是在讨价还价。但问题是之后的生活也将充满无穷的诱惑。混乱妥协与你,但是清理它们的时候永远不会到。我建议提前还清自己欠下的债。如果想在晚饭的时候消耗掉1000卡路里,那就在那之前就做好准备。(可行的计划包括锻炼和节食,但不能让自己挨饿)提前做好准备,就无所谓意志力的强弱了。也没必要去跟自己讨价还价,也没有一大堆的杂务等你去处理。长而久之,有一个好消息就是每个人都可以实现自我控制,只要我们愿意,自己去控制自己的毅力,否则你将受制于它。