The Mantra and not so ‘free choice’

Our mantra needs to become ‘I can have it if I really want it, but is it worth the calories?’ For most people who struggle with their weight the default mantra is ‘I can’t have it – so I will!’  But to shift mantras, first we need to be mindful enough to be aware that our unconscious is in play. Mindful awareness comes from learning to pause just before we eat something to wonder what is going on in our minds. So often we think we are making a conscious decision when we simply are not – when an unconscious mantra is in play.

I read a fascinating study published in Nature Neuroscience* that showed that our conscious mind becomes aware of a decision that we have already taken at an unconscious level up to 10 seconds later! This means that when we think we are taking a conscious decision we are often just rationalising a decision that we took using processes we have little awareness of. The challenge is to pause before we put food in our mouth and ask the question, ‘Which mantra is at play here?’

*CS Soon et al. Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain.  Nature Neuroscience 11:5;543-5, 2008.