Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Greeks called it ἀκρασία

Day 12: ἀκρασίαI first ran into the term akrasia, acting against one's own self-interest, in a post by Mark Sisson. I've had blogging about akrasia on my to-do list for a while, and tonight I finally sat down to do it. Grabbed a chocolate chip cookie before I started writing. Sigh. Paleo, huh.

I have to admit that I found Mark's first article on the subject kind of abstruse and difficult to follow, even though I minored in philosophy way back in the last century.  He talks about free will, the weakness of the flesh, and the interesting concept that we only have so much decision-making strength in a day, that having to make trivial decisions all day long leaves us without the ability to make important ones by evening. A second article by Mark explores the physiological roots of cravings - lack of sleep, lack of certain nutrients, fear of social exclusion. All of these can lead us to toss aside our carefully reasoned choices and decisions and just go with something we know will make us miserable in the long run. I like these ideas,but I think the real answer may lie deeper in our psyche. Not that I claim to have that answer, mind you.

My real catalyst for writing about akrasia, aside from my own regrettable weakness for gluten- and sugar-filled treats that will make me pay dearly at 3 a.m., was a lovely comment that was left yesterday on this blog, on a post I wrote over a year ago - one of my first posts, in fact. It was about fighting the lizard brain, Seth Godin's term for the resistance. the part of our brain that shuts us down and fills us with fear. I think there is a relationship between akrasia and the lizard brain, although I'm not sure exactly how it works. It's something to think about - expect more posts about this in coming weeks.

What do you think, do you sense a connection between self-sabotage and the fear of success? What kind of words do you think we could build to flesh out that connection? Talk to me!

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