How to trick yourself into action

‘Little by little does the trick.’  Aesop

Creating legacy and battling Resistance

Creating legacy depends very much on our ability to battle our Resistance and to take action when necessary. Especially when it comes to long-term and large-scale projects, as legacy projects often are, we have to be able to trick ourselves into action.

The reactive side of our brain is trick-able

I’ve already blogged about the two sides of the brain – one rational, the other reactive. In findings ways to trick ourselves into action, an interesting fact to bear in mind is that the reactive mind is not able to tell when the rational mind is lying to it.

This may sound crazy – how can one side of your brain lie to the other side of your brain and make it work? But to understand that it may help to know that lying is an attribute of the rational side of the brain. The reactive mind doesn’t have the concept-making ability that is necessary to tell a lie. This also means that it doesn’t have the ability to recognise a lie when it comes across one.

How to trick the reactive side of your brain into action

As a result of this interesting biological attribute, a highly effective trick to get your reactive mind to switch off its Resistance is to pretend that you are not in fact going to take the action you know you must take.

Instead, you should tell the reactive side of your brain that you are only going to do a relatively innocuous action. To do so, you can use the phrase ‘I’m not really going to [the task] now, but I’ll just do [its first step]’. For example, ‘I’m not really doing to write that blog post now, but I’ll just log into my site.’

When the rational mind tells the reactive mind that it’s not really going to do the dreded task now, the reactive mind breathes a metaphorical sigh of relief and lifts the Resistance.

Tricking troubleshooting tips

If you have a major task which you are resisting a lot, you may need to use the sentence several times over as you get to each new phase of action, modifying it each time to take you to the next step.

Once you have used this sentence for a bit you will probably find that you don’t need the second half. In fact you may even find yourself saying, ‘I’m not going to write the report’ and then find yourself writing it. This can be a very powerful way of doing a series of small actions that would provoke a large amount of Resistance if done as a whole.

What about you?

How do you battle Resistance? What strategies do you use to trick the reactive side of your brain into action? Share your ideas with us in the comments section.

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Alexa Ispas

I am a social entrepreneur, blogger, and talent scout, interested in helping people who want to create legacy. I have recently completed my PhD thesis in social psychology at the University of Edinburgh, and am originally from Romania. I am writing a daily blog on creating legacy, which you can find at