Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Want-Self verses Should-Self

Who/What is the stronger our Want-Self or our Should-Self?

How often do you find when decisions are being made, our want-selves take over and we do things that ignore the ethical implications of our actions.

Psychologists say we have different systems for wanting things and liking things. So some of the stuff we really want, and spend a lot of time pursuing, doesn't give us as much satisfaction as we thought it would once we've got it.

This explains why children will spend weeks nagging parents to buy them a guitar or a pet but quickly lose interest once they have it.

One of the most ubiquitous problems in daily life is achieving self-control.

We need to control our natural urges to eat too much, to smoke, to drink too much, to gamble too much, spend too much, watch too much television, get too little exercise and even to work too much.

Here, again, we seem to have two selves at work: an unconscious self that's emotional and shortsighted and a conscious self that's reasoning and farsighted.

We have trouble controlling ourselves in circumstances where the benefits are immediate and certain, whereas the costs are longer-term and uncertain.

When we come home tired from work, for instance, the benefits of slumping in front of the telly are immediate, whereas the costs - feeling tired the next day; looking back on our life and realising we could have done a lot better if we had got off our backside and played a bit of sport, sought a further qualification at tech, spent more time talking to our partner/children/friends etc - are not so clear-cut.

Similarly, the reward from eating food is instant whereas the costs of overeating are uncertain and far off: being regarded as physically unattractive, becoming obese, becoming a diabetic, dying younger, etc.

As everyone who has tried to diet, give up smoking, control their drinking, save or get on top of their credit card debt knows, it's hard to achieve the self-control our conscious, future-selves want us to achieve.

"The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn."
~~ David Russell

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney, Nov 2011. The artist Peter Tilley called this "Domestic Bliss" and his statement said:
"Contemplating the next move in an ordinary domestic situation".


A Daft Scots Lass said...

Gorgeous Sculpture. So different.

Mike Smith said...

Peggy, my dear, your words never cease to inspire me. Hope all is well down under.

Kim Hambric said...

My want-self is winning too many battles lately. My should-self get shamed way too often. I need to reward the should-self more often and give my want-self a mental spanking.

McMGrad89 said...

We have been talking to our college students about locus of control and self control asking them to find out what's more important to them, sleeping in or coming to school each day so they can graduate with a degree and a profession. It is a long road and feels like some of them will never get it.

HappyOrganist said...

WANT! heheh

Christine said...

Nice words on self control and very true.

miruspeg said...

Gillian - I was drawn to that sculpture also and liked it even more after reading the artist's statement.

Mike - Thank you my friend! As summer has arrived downunder I am a very happy chappy!

Kim - Love your description about giving your want-self a mental spanking! That is why I wrote this post to plant a seed or two to control my want-self urges that hinder the progress of important projects.

Annemarie - Staying up late and sleeping in seems to be a way of life for many students. And the bad sleep pattern makes them unmotivated and lethargic. Its a bit of a viscous cycle and breaking the habit is a difficult one. Good luck in helping them "see the light".

HO - I LOVE the "child" in you my friend! My want-self gets to play often also. :-)

miruspeg said...

Christine - I always appreciate your comments on my blog, you are a very loyal friend!
Take care :-)

Stoneweaver said...

An interesting post - as we so often hear/read that we shouldn't (there is that word again) listen to the 'shoulds' and the 'coulds'.

We spend a lot of energy wrestling with the concept of should/could. And thinking we are doing the wrong thing or not doing 'enough'.

I see your point about taking the easy option. But why not just accept that you are going to eat cake and slump on the couch? It's not such a crime!

Acceptance - it frees up so much energy.

And when you have freed up all that energy - you just might get on with the project that needs tackling.

I know what the next move is in the sculpture - the cat is going to jump uo on to the seat and have a nap! And the man is going to let it, as he is indeed a very well-trained servant! ;o)

Chapter Forty said...

What I want I justify, by saying to myself- "life is too short" I never make the connection that satisfying that want could actually shorten my life....

And with a roof over my head, a loving family and 3 meals a day I never really need for anything, well except maybe some chocolate.

miruspeg said...

Stoneweaver - Your comments/feedback always give me further food for thought.....thank you.
So I will sit on the couch tonight and eat some cake and not feel guilty!!
The quote I included about "which bridge to cross and which to burn" probably would have been a more suitable subject to discuss.
Love your interpretation of the "domestic bliss" sculpture! :D)

miruspeg said...

Chapter Forty - Another interesting comment....gee I have some wonderful friends!
I feel the same about having enough, as I have been fortunate to be very blessed this lifetime.
I now have a great need to share my wealth....but always keep some chocolate in the cupboard!

Relyn said...

The meal has been eaten.
The kitchen is clean.
The leftovers are stashed.
The walk has been taken.
Everyone is happy and fed and blessed.
Now I have the time to stop by.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to tell you that I am thankful for you and for the connections blogging brings. Sending you much love, Relyn

Roban said...

You said it well, and I am constantly trying to tell my want-self to go hide for a while so my should-self can get busy! I've enjoyed having a few days off this week, but I know I could be accomplishing more. Perhaps I'll hear your voice in my head next time I reach for a candy bar or decide to skip that much-needed walk.

miruspeg said...

Relyn - Thank you for dropping by and connecting and sending love, I will gladly accept it and send it back to you ten-fold!
Take care. :-)

Roban - You have a very strong should-self, I know that for a fact! So it is OK for your want-self to have some fun every now and again.
Days off are meant to be relaxing, eating chocolate, reading and watching television.
Keep shining my friend....

Can-Can said...

Learning to distinguish between wants and needs, necessaries and frivolities, etc., is an ongoing struggle. I am disciplined in many areas most of the time, in some areas some of the time, and then there are times when I just let go and do at least one of my wants. I'm only human. Everyone I know has something they aren't disciplined about.
Thought-provoking post.

miruspeg said...

Candelaria, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on some of my posts.....I always relish good feedback!
I like the saying "to err is human, to forgive is divine".....so I forgive myself when I go off the rails!