Willpower Day 4. Alternative Coping for the 'Oh Bugger It' Effect.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify the next time you’re experiencing the “Oh Bugger It Effect,” while it’s occurring.

The Oh Bugger It Effect refers to when you’re in the middle of violating one of your willpower rules and, once you notice you’ve broken your rules, you completely surrender to temptation, and either plan to start again on Monday, tomorrow, next month, etc or tell yourself you’ve failed again.

– eating binges
– drinking binges
– shopping
– destructive arguing
– staying up late
– spending 3 hours on FB or writing emails
– skipping exercise
– ruminating without attempting alternative coping

– skipping anything you have committed to doing as part of the willpower process (e.g., weighing yourself once a week or doing self monitoring if you are participating in binge eating treatment)

– skipping one of the precursor behaviors – e.g., skipping putting clean yoga gear in the car the night before, skipping planning your meals for the week before going to the supermarket, skipping making a shopping list.

– doing something that increases the chance of willpower failure later e.g., buying big bags of potato chips at the supermarket, agreeing to do another activity near your planned supermarket trip time meaning that you will be rushed at the supermarket if your day runs a little bit late.

– You haven’t called your Mum in 2 weeks and you think, I’ll do it next week.

– You haven’t called any of your friends in 2 weeks and you think, I’ll do it next week.

– You’re in a situation that is triggering self sabotaging thoughts e.g., I’m at dinner with my family and they’re all overeating.

Alternative Coping

You’ll need to plan an alternative coping response for when you notice you’re mid Oh Bugger It Effect.

Include two components

1. A Self Compassion Statement
2. A Skillful Behavioral Response

A Self Compassion Statement

Self criticism destroys willpower. For example, here’s a study that showed that reducing self criticism led to restrained eaters eating fewer lollies after eating a donut.

A self compassion response needs to include
a) Mindfulness
b) A sense of Common Humanity
c) Self Kindness

Here’s a sample Self Compassion Response. For example, you’ve eaten 5 pieces of toast and you’re tempted to start on the big tub of ice cream in the fridge.

“Hey – this is the Oh Bugger it Effect! (mindfulness). Right now I feel disgust, shame, and anxiety. This is a really common situation people find themselves in – I’m not the only one that struggles with it (common humanity). This is a moment of suffering and I’m going to treat myself how I’d treat a good friend. I’m going to give myself proper comfort for the strong emotions I’m feeling rather than more food. (self-kindness)”

Write one for yourself related to your willpower goal, so that you can read it when you need to.

A Skillful Behavioral Response

What type of skillful behavioral responses could you make when you notice the Oh Bugger It Effect is happening?

Prepare some ideas for your typical “Oh Bugger It Effect” situations.

For the person above, it might be

– doing an alternative activity that’s incompatible with continuing bingeing e.g., going to the uni library even if its just to read magazines.
– doing something s/he finds physiologically soothing e.g., having a cuddle with her cat.
– eating at her next scheduled time for eating rather than skipping or extending out that time, as per binge eating treatment protocol.

Prepare these ideas for a skillful behavioral response in advance. Don’t include ideas you won’t actually do.