How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The ChangingMinds Blog!
2008 and all that brainwashing
So who are you trying to kid? You've made a new year's resolution, like every year, and like every year the chances are it'll last a month at best. Lots of fitness kit and membership of health clubs get sold around now. Yeah -- you too, huh?
Well maybe we should brainwash ourselves to build a better commitment. I bought a copy of Dominic Streatfield's book 'Brainwash' yesterday and I'm already 120 pages in. Fascinating stuff. There's scary stuff in there about CIA (and other agencies) testing psychotropic drugs on unsuspecting subjects in their fruitless hunt for a truth drug to use on foreign agents. Fortunately, although you can loosen tongues (and there's little better than alcohol anyway), you're as likely to get fantasy as truth.
There are, however, some less narcotic brainwashing methods you can use to build commitment. The simplest of these is to go public, telling everyone what you are going to do. This not only makes it difficult to back down: it also works at a subconscious level as the brain tries to match beliefs with actions. Writing it down and signing this personal contract also helps.
Do get into action early and do keep it public. Reward yourself for your action (but not by eating if you're on a diet). Also work on changing who you are. Physical change helps here so get a haircut, new clothes and so on.
Join groups of similarly committed people and meet regularly to discuss progress and share ideas. Do not allow discussions about quitting and work hard on others to ensure they stay. Demonize people outside the group, showing them to be wrong, bad and dangerously unworthy. If anyone does leave, act as if they have converted to the dark side, quickly ejecting them. Then act as if they never existed or talk about them with disgusted pity.
Celebrate and reward those who achieve, elevating them to a higher level and holding them up as shining examples for others to follow. Aspire to their success and try even harder yourself. Study your weaknesses and break through those things which are holding you back. And when you succeed, teach others.
Happy New Year!