When you are trying to become a better person, there are always things you need to do that you don’t want to.
It might be conquering a fear, trying to form a new habit while breaking an old one, or getting out of your comfort zone in some other way.
Maybe it’s going to the gym to lift weights, a chore like cooking or cleaning, meditating, or waking up at a certain time you’re not used to. Maybe it’s following a diet or eating plan to get lean, or going out to talk to girls when you’re afraid.
Whatever it is, you know the action will have a positive benefit but part of you is resisting. Here are two mental tricks to get past the resistance.
The first trick is to blow the thing completely out of proportion in your mind. Here what you do is magnify this action’s importance in your head as much as you can.
Turn it into the biggest deal it could possibly be, whatever that means for you.
Frame it as a life or death situation.
Get personal. Tap into your core beliefs, your greatest ambitions, and your deepest fears.
Pretend that taking this action is the difference between you achieving all of your hopes and dreams and you dying a failure.
Blow it out of proportion to such an extent that deep down you feel an absolute compulsion to do it. You will feel that you must do it.
I used this technique when I was getting into the habit of taking cold showers. I would be standing in the warm shower, and then time would come to switch off the hot water and make it freezing cold.
I knew that I had to do it, but I would start thinking about how unpleasant the cold water would feel, and get reluctant.
In this situation, I would turn the decision to switch off the hot water into a giant, overblown big deal in my head. I would tell myself that turning the water to cold was a reflection of my deepest character (in some ways it was) and that it was going to determine how the the rest of my life turned out.
I would challenge myself by saying things like, “Are you a pussy? Do you make pussy life decisions? Do you choose not to do things because they are hard?”
Then I would get angry and think, “Fuck no! I’m not a pussy! I don’t want to die a failure!”
It got me charged up and it worked every time. I would turn the water on to freezing and then a minute later step out of the shower feeling great.
You might think this is crazy. “It’s just a shower dude.”
But when you are trying to form habits, forcing yourself to do the thing, every single time, is all that really matters. Habits over time determine our character and character is destiny.
The second trick is basically the opposite – it is to shrink the importance of the thing down in your mind; to trick yourself into thinking it is “no big deal”. If you shrink something down to having a minuscule importance (even though you know it really is important), it will become easier to do.
For example, sometimes I don’t feel like stretching when I know I need to stretch. I think to myself, “Just lie down on the ground, and put one leg across your body. It’s not a big deal. It’s not even hard.” Once I get into it, the stretching becomes easy.
This also works if you want to talk to a girl. Think, “I’m walking up to another person, and words are coming out of my mouth. That’s it. I’m just talking to another human being.”
This takes away a lot of the fear, or at least the pressure you’re putting on yourself. Stop thinking in terms of “approaches” or “pick up” – just think that you’re doing the entirely normal act of going to talk to another person.
If you perceive an action as small and insignificant, the resistance will shrink as well. If you can scale something down in your mind and view it as casual, simple and effortless, it often becomes so in practice.
Experiment with these two techniques, and find out which works best for you. Maybe one works better for you in some situations, and the other works better in others.
The important thing is to try it out and see for yourself. Good luck!
Do you have any thoughts or opinions on this topic? How do you push past resistance to get yourself to do something you don’t want to? Let us know in the comments below.