A psychological trap that keeps you from getting fitter
What is a psychological trap? We believe more information alone – more knowledge – would change everything. But what really matters often escapes our attention.
A few years ago, two Harvard researchers conducted an intriguing attention experiment.
An experiment that could change your view of reality forever.
The Mystery of the Invisible Gorilla
Two scientists, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simmons conducted the following experiment, which resulted in their book (worth reading), The Invisible Gorilla.
- Watch a group of basketball players in a 15-second video.
- Team A wears white shirts, Team B wears black shirts.
- Count the number of passes made by the players in the white shirts.
Clear so far?
Then let’s do the experiment together. Play the 40-second video and count the white team’s passes.
Did you count all passes? Did you notice the “invisible gorilla” (in the “moonwalking bear” commercial)?
Isn’t it amazing how we miss the obvious information while distracted by what we think is important?
How Invisible Scripts Become Psychological Traps.
Recently we talked about the concept of invisible scripts. Invisible scripts cause us to divert our attention and energy in the wrong direction.
In the end, it can become a psychological trap.
At the end of the article, I asked about invisible scripts that you have noticed yourself or in your environment. The answers are really exciting.
Here are some of my favorites:
- “Less than 40 minutes of training do nothing.” -Andrew
- “I can’t afford healthy food.” -Linda
- “Fat people can build muscle faster.” -Richard
- “In the gym, I am smiled at by the advanced.” -Thomas
- “Strength training is only for… (self-censorship).” -Anna
- “Protein shake = doping” -Michael
- “I have shitty genes (everyone in my family puts on fat…).” -Alice
These scripts are often so subtle that they pass your mind completely undetected. They influence your emotions, thinking, language, and actions.
#1 Psychological Trap Stopping You From Getting Fitter
Today is about one of those psychological traps – one that I believe is among the most important and dangerous.
I call it the “information” or “knowledge trap.”
Before I decide to start, I need to know exactly how it works .”
This belief is so ingrained in our subconscious that it becomes a psychological trap.
We even hear this script from professors and so-called experts. “Give people information so they can make the right decisions.”
We internalize the idea that knowledge — knowledge alone — helps us change. And we say things like.
- “I need to understand how it works…”
- “First, I need to have a detailed roadmap before I can start…”
If you want to change, “know more” is your WORST option.
But in reality, looking for more information is one of the WORST things you can do if you want to make a change.
Be honest with yourself for a moment. You KNOW very well what you should be doing.
Sometimes I ask in fitness coaching: “What do you think would help you in your current situation?”
The answer is often a good solution. Maybe not the 100% solution, but a good 80% is enough just to get started.
But I still don’t know which gym is best for me. I must first figure out which gym is best to start training at.
I need the perfect training outfit and this new heart rate monitor before I can really start.
Before I change my diet, do I need the best protein powder out there?
There is whey, casein, multi-component protein – and countless manufacturers. Which product is best?”
Whatever it is for you, we all have these hurdles to delay our success.
It’s funny: As soon as you realize that knowledge alone isn’t enough, you discover this invisible script everywhere.
We hear statements like “Education is the future” and believe that just a bit more information, just one more insight, changes everything for us.
But the truth is that we’ve been information junkies for years, and that alone has changed little.
When “more information” doesn’t help us, we focus on learning new ways of doing things.
New training methods, new diets, and new and revolutionary equipment.
In doing so, we forget one thing: By focusing on these new methods, we are doing the same thing as LAST YEAR! And the year before last, and the year before that.
And while we try a few new methods and find they don’t work, we blame ourselves:
I can’t motivate myself right now.’ we say then. “I’ve just got unbelievable work to do now.”
Ironically, we block our long-term success when we jump from one diet to another or try one training method after another.
What we’re missing here is this.
Solution: Exit “Research Mode”
The “more information helps” belief is incredibly comfortable. In reality, it keeps people from making REAL, PAINFUL mistakes.
Over the years, we settle into our comfort zones. We stop dealing with new things and being exposed to unfamiliar situations.
We hide behind our computer’s display and prefer to read about it.
How many of us read one blog, then another every day, and then do nothing?
How was it when you learned to ride a bike?
Did you deal with the mechanics of the bike first?
First, measure your body weight and then research whether the frame can withstand the dynamic loads when riding.
Of course not!
You sat on it, drove off, and fell on your face. Then you tried again. And again. And again.
Is the best solution to skip the details, stop “investigating,” and finally DO something?
In such situations, I use a simple technique from Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. He calls it the Regret Minimization Framework.
It works like this:
Will I regret NOT doing this when I’m 80 years old?”
What world-class athlete and fitness model do you know who also has a Ph.D. in exercise and nutrition?
Successful people know that it’s not information or new methods that make them successful.
Then everyone would be fit, healthy, and happy.
Today all information is freely available.
Psychological trap – Conclusion
If you’re like me, you’ve probably watched the invisible gorilla video multiple times.
When you knew what was important, you discovered it immediately.
That’s what it’s all about when you change your invisible scripts.
Successful people don’t rely on “mental crutches.” They use different invisible scripts than most people.
You know research is essential. But they also know that research is only a tiny part of the whole.
And above all: You don’t chase any supposed “shortcuts” and “miracle cures.”
And neither should you.
Just like me back then.
It’s been many years.
Back then, I trained for far too long according to the same training plan.
I realize that a new training plan is needed.
Simply change the exercises, tweak the repetitions and breaks and set a new training stimulus overnight.
No, I want to make it perfect.
First, I buy this new training book, work through it, learn the new training principles it contains, and then apply them.
This is going to be the best training plan I’ve ever had!
A good two months will pass before I have the new plan.
Two months of stagnation.
Two months in which I could have made progress.
Yes, it might have been only 80% effective.
But a 60-day lead with only 80% top speed is almost impossible to catch.
Especially not if you use the time to learn while doing it.
Classic case of the “knowledge” trap.
One thing I took away from this episode: the 80% solution is enough. Begin.
DO and then learn.
What about you?
I would like you to write a comment and describe a situation in which you fell into the information trap and what you would do differently today.
We all know such examples from our own life or environment.
What was it for you?