Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Change, Fatigue, Migraines, Self Control and How it All Relates #MHAM

The day 25 prompt is about the following short video, which goes to bat for the "lazy" people who resist the change they dream of, and why they might not actually be lazy at all. What do you think about the intriguing research discussed here, and what do you think you would do if you'd participated in the study. Do you think this explains how you act when you're in the middle of a migraine attack.

What do I think about this research? 

This research question is very interesting. Do we really just get so fatigued by exercising a little self control that we can't manage expending the energy required to make change? Honestly, I don't believe it's that simple. I have 4 big issues with what is going on here.
1. The study seems flawed because it doesn't take into account how practiced people are in self control. Self control is a learned skill that gets easier the more you do it, thus requiring less energy.
2. It doesn't take into account the feeling of frustration or of having been defeated that result from unfairly being asked to smell and look at cookies you can't eat at the same time you are asked to eat radishes of all things. No doubt those feelings impacted how willing the participants were to continue working on the puzzle.
3. It is a big leap to say that just because someone was too fatigued to complete an impossible task after exercising a little self control, that it also explains why change is so hard.
4. Change IS hard, very hard, BUT for reasons much more complicated than this simple experiment suggests.

I do agree that laziness isn't the thing that stops people from changing. And I do think think self control is related to change in that it takes a great deal of self control to change. Part of why it is so hard to change has got to be attributed to a culture that doesn't seem to understand the extraordinary value of delayed gratification and certainly doesn't promote it. We love things instant, fast, now. But it isn't good to get when we want when we want it. It devalues the things we want and it is the antithesis of self control. Everything is better when it requires effort and a period of waiting.

But even that is a simplification. In addition to self control we need support, motivation, dedication, a good plan with benchmarks along the way, access to resources, maybe some accountability, I bet temperament plays a role, and you have to be ready,  etc. to make change successful. Seems to me the more of these you have the easier the change will be and fewer of them makes change more difficult.

Do I think the research relates to how I behave when I have a migraine?

In a way, yes. Fatigue and exhaustion are my constant companions. I spend much more time than the average healthy person doing what looks like relaxing - sitting in front of the TV, putting my feet up, etc. I bet to many outsiders, and certainly everyone who doesn't understand how chronic pain works, I look like a lazy person. Of course, I'm certainly not, but I don't have the energy to be active all day, or to do many of the things healthy people do. In order to function I have to pace myself and I have to rest throughout the day - sometimes all day depending on how bad the pain is. And what looks like relaxing is actually recovery or employing distraction as a means of coping with the pain and crap.

The similarities end there. I don't find change any harder or easier now that I'm living with more exhaustion and fatigue than before my migraines went chronic. In fact, I've made several big changes since then, many in an effort to live better with my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia and I've done so despite my fatigue and exhaustion. I've been able to make those changes because I have a supportive husband, some resources, have made making these changes a priority in my life, and I'm both well practiced in and get real pleasure from delayed gratification. It was part effort, part luck part timing.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! Your dissection of the study is perfect. I didn't even think about those factors, though my husband pointed out that chocolate has been shown to increase productivity. ;) Thanks for a different take on the blog prompt.