I once heard a story about a group of people who had undergone heart bypass surgery and were told by their doctors that if they didn’t change their lifestyle they would die. After 2 years, only 10% changed; Only 10% of people who were in an actual life or death situation AND went through a traumatic event!
We are told that “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is a working definition of insanity.” Clearly NOT! This is how we are hardwired and this is actually the definition of HUMANITY. But why?
Well, there are two reasons.
1 – At the most tribal level, change is often bad. The elders already figured stuff out, so going outside of these teachings may get you (and your tribe) dead! Plant the right stuff at the right time or we all starve during the winter. Hunt the way you were taught or you might become dinner yourself.
Also, basic society depends upon many social rules. Change those rules and you upset the social equilibrium. That makes people anxious and worried. You may be a witch and find yourself burning at a stake.
So, we fear change and keep doing the same thing because it feels emotionally comfortable, even if it hurts us physically.
2 – The brain doesn’t want two things. It doesn’t want to die and it doesn’t want to be embarrassed. Not always in that order. With that in mind, we will often rationalize ANYTHING to make ourselves right and therefore avoid embarrassment. The best examples of this are “Doomsday” cults. Jesus is coming next week or the spaceship is coming tomorrow. Whatever the ideology, after Jesus and/or the spaceship fail to show up, you would think that the cult is over. Here is the ultimate proof that Reverend Gorlock was wrong. NO! This is when the cults gain the most power! Yes, the most power.
Why? Because at this point the flock must come up with a logical reason for their savior’s delay and once they do, the brain gets behind it 100% as a self-defense mechanism not to be embarrassed or wrong. They become even surer that next time is the right time. And their renewed vigor grows the cult.
So, failure often results in denial, even self-delusion and then more powerful renewed faith.
Does this mean that people are just doomed to keep buying “miracle” pills, machines and books? Yes. And marketers know it. They add two additional pieces to ensure it.
1 – They often focus on the desperate. When we are desperate we want to believe anything and so we do. If you have tried to lose weight so many times and you are desperate for a magic pill, you are VERY apt to believe in one, even if the last two failed.
2 – They use language and techniques that help you create a logical reason for the last failure. “This is not like those others” “This is new and improved” “Never before…” etc… Since you want to have an excuse for the last failure, they help you find it.
We all have had this happen to us. Yes, you too. It happens in all aspects of our lives. Maybe it was in business or a relationship or a product.
1 – You are attracted to the “bad boy”, but your last three “bad boy’ relationships were disasters. You find an excuse for them and when you meet the next “bad boy” he tells you that he’s different and you believe him because you want to! 6 months later, you are in another disaster relationship. Are you crazy? No, you are human.
2 – You’ve joined two different Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or Network Marketing Companies and both times they failed to work for you. When another person approaches you with a new MLM and you find an excuse and believe this time it will work. A year later, this one is failing too.
These types of stories are everywhere.
So, what can we do? Four things:
1 – The most important thing to do is to realize that you are hardwired to do this. Once you really get this fact, you can see when you begin to act this way and do something about it. You are NOT immune, no matter how smart you think you are.
2 – Do NOT act impulsively. Once you see what is happening, stop and set a time in the future to deal with this. Ex. When you see the commercial for the magic pill, write down that you will look into this tomorrow afternoon. Now you have time to think and take the emotion out of the equation.
3 – Gain outside perspective from a source(s) you trust. This can be a friend, a relative or research from websites that you trust.
4 – Tell someone else what you plan to do. If you can’t or are afraid to, it’s probably a bad idea.
Hopefully this will help you be wiser in the future.
“When we are dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”
- Dale Carnegie