Will & The Soul Illusion The Traps & Their Detector Emotion-Focused CopingIntentional Trance Formation Link Link etc

Learning to Steer

We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves
after a journey than no one can take for us, nor spare us

- Marcel Proust

In George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman, the Devil asks Don Juan why he bothers learning about himself and what he really wants (his core motivation), and Don Juan responds:

"Why, to be able to choose the line of greatest advantage instead of yielding in the direction of the least resistance. And there you have our difference: to be in hell is to drift, to be in heaven is to steer."

If you do not steer, your actions will be dependent upon the cause-and-effect principles that effect the Psyche rather than upon your interests and principles.  For example, the Problem of Immediate Gratification [the PIG] results from the fact that a small but immediate payoff has a much greater influence on behavior than a larger but delayed payoff.  This causes a problem: People knowingly trade what is dear to them [health, wealth, relationships] for the trivial but immediate payoff of using an addictive incentive.

This program is about learning to steer.  It is designed to help high functioning individuals develop their strength of will so that they are able to steer effectively, even through crises that would cause others to relapse.

Animals do not consciously steer; they react to local conditions.  What steers the mouse is not its best interests, but the cheese that baits the trap.  Humans who appreciate how the mousetrap works are not taken in by it.  However, those trying to lose weight by restricting cheese intake may not appreciate the motivational consequences of restricting access to an incentive.  Counter-Regulatory Motivation (also known as Perverse Motivation) is one of 6 addictive traps described in the next section.

The Nature of Your Challenge

The idea that humans have willpower is a controversial topic.  Most everyone with an excessive appetite has tried what they call willpower—"white knuckling it"—without success. (The "brute force" method may, perversely, provoke counter-regulatory motivation). However, if willpower is defined as acting as intended despite the influence of local conditions, then it is a faculty worth developing.

Much of the text on this web site describes the biological and psychological basis of addictive traps. To exercise will you must become familiar with cause-and-effect principles that govern your reactions, especially those related to stress and temptation. This is an interesting topic, especially to those of us who have to cope with high levels of stress or temptation. Much of the text that follows describes how addictive traps work, and strategies that make escape from them possible. Alas, intellectual appreciation of abstract principles will not free you from an addictive trap. It is critically important that you develop the procedureal skills to influence your emotional reactions to the events that happen in your life.

The capability to exercise your will emerges gradually as you learn to influence how you react to external and internal provocations. At first you will practice in a controlled enviroment, using the exercises provided in a quiet, stress-free environment. Later you will practice coping during genuine encounteres with high-risk situations.

The Default Path > >