Do you have problems saying No?
No to eating that cookie, no to your boss to work extra hours, no to the PTA to take on more responsibilities or bake that cake?
Do you just feel overwhelmed and overworked?
If this sounds like you here is a quick tip to learning how to overcome temptation or stop biting off more than you can chew (love my cheeky metaphor).
Change your words.
Rather than thinking you are saying No, just say, “I don’t eat cookies.”
In a research study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, 120 students were split into two different groups.
The difference between these two groups was saying “I can’t” compared to “I don’t.”
One group was told that each time they were faced with a temptation, they would tell themselves “I can’t do X.”
For example, when tempted with ice cream, they would say, “I can’t eat ice cream.”
When the second group was faced with a temptation, they were told to say “I don’t do X.” For example, when tempted with ice cream, they would say, “I don’t eat ice cream.”
After repeating these phrases, each student answered a set of questions unrelated to the study. Once they finished answering their questions, the students went to hand in their answer sheet, thinking that the study was over. In reality, it was just beginning.
As each student walked out of the room and handed in their answer sheet, they were offered a complimentary treat. The student could choose between a chocolate candy bar or a granola health bar. As the student walked away, the researcher would mark their snack choice on the answer sheet.
Here’s what happened:
The students who told themselves “I can’t eat X” chose to eat the chocolate candy bar 61% of the time. Meanwhile, the students who told themselves “I don’t eat X” chose to eat the chocolate candy bars only 36% of the time. This simple change in terminology significantly improved the odds that each person would make a more healthy food choice.
I like to think that the reason lies in feeling deprived V feeling empowered. When I say ‘I can’t’, I feel like a small child being told what to do and none of us like that feeling right? Whereas when I say, ‘I don’t’, I feel like I’ve made up my mind, like I have created a standard for myself that I want to uphold.
So, change your words. Overcome that temptation. Build healthy habits.
Try it and let me know how it works out for you!