by Sean Croxton
Shut the duck up.
You know, that duck in your head that quacks pretty much all day long, telling you how much you suck and just how worthless you are.
We’re all ducked. Some of us have ducks that are louder than others, going out of their way to really duck with us.
The duck is part of the human machinery. You can’t dodge it. You can’t duck it. But you can turn the ducking volume down on it.
I should know. My duck used to quack at full blast. From the moment I woke up until I fell asleep, those negative, self-defeating thoughts raced through my mind. In fact, sleep seemed to be my only reprieve for the quacking. That is, when my duck wasn’t keeping me up all hours of the night.
My duck lied.
It still does. The only difference is that I know how to control my duck. I know how to quack back.
Way back in 2005, a book called The Game by Neil Strauss (it’s not what you think) led me to begin studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), or the art and science of personal excellence. Maybe the second or third NLP book I read was The Structure of Magic by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. This single book was likely the most effective weapon I had encountered in shutting my duck up.
What I learned from Bandler and Grinder is that we as human beings represent our experiences through language, whether that language be outwardly expressed verbally or through that chatterbox (the duck) in our heads. The representation of our world is the map or model we use to generate our behavior.
The problem is that our nervous systems tend to generalize, distort, and delete entire portions of what’s going on in the real world.
A generalization is defined by the authors as the process by which elements or pieces of a person’s model become detached from their original experience and come to represent the entire category of which the experience is an example.
A generalization can be both helpful and harmful. For instance, if when you were a young child you walked against a red light on a busy street and almost got hit by a bus, you may generalize that you should never cross a street when the light is red. However, to generalize that all streets are unsafe to cross would become quite a problem.
A deletion is defined as a process by which we selectively pay attention to certain dimensions of our experience and exclude others.
I can totally relate to this one, as my duck used to tell me that people did not like me (a generalization).
Is that really true?
Not one single person in the history of my life has ever found me likable?
That’s bullcrap. Tomfoolery. QUACKery!
But I believed it wholeheartedly.
Just imagine how it affected my interactions with others! I didn’t even try to connect with people since I just KNEW that they weren’t going to like me anyway. I took every positive social experience, sent it to my internal junk folder, and deleted them all.
The example Bandler and Grinder use in their book is something that a lot of people may relate to. Take for instance a man who has made the generalization that he is not worth caring about. This man continually complains to his wife about how she never shows him how much she cares for him.
Upon visiting the couple’s home, the authors found that the wife expressed her care for her husband in many ways. However, since her caring words and actions conflicted with his generalizations of having no self-worth and not being cared about, he deleted and ignored her messages.
Interesting, huh? I can see your wheels turning. 🙂
Lastly, a distortion is the process which allows us to make shifts in our experience of sensory data. I still have a bit of trouble with this one. Let’s go back to the man described above. He distorts the real world by bending and shaping his experiences to fit his own model of reality. When his wife shows that she cares about him, he thinks that the only reason she is expressing her affection is because she wants something from him!
She can’t win!
I used to do the exact same thing. I thought that people wanted to hang out with me because they wanted something from me. Today I still struggle with this one, as my duck starts quacking whenever someone in the fitness and health industry wants to get into my inner circle. I wonder if they’re truly being genuine or if there is something they want from me. It becomes a big-time mind fudge. The good part is that I’m aware of it. I can make a choice as to whether or not I want to believe my duck.
We have a choice to shut the duck up.
In yesterday’s UW Radio podcast, Pete Cohen and I discussed how and why shutting the duck up (a phrase coined by Cohen) is a ginormous — and often overlooked — aspect of losing fat.
Yeah, we can do our best to implement the recommendations of last week’s guest Jonathan Bailor. But if we are constantly playing victim to our own minds, even our most stalwart attempts to get healthy and lose fat will prove futile.
In this episode, Pete and I cover the following topics:
* How generalizations can be a giant obstacle in losing fat long-term.
* The habits we have that thwart the achievement of our health goals.
* How affirming ourselves in ways other than food consumption can be critical to successful fat loss.
* Why it is important to set ourselves up for wins while on our journeys.
* Pete’s Four Ps of Fat Loss
* The formula for true happiness.
* One of the greatest contributions you can make to the world.
Click the PLAY button below to listen to this life-changing episode of UW Radio.
Visit Pete’s website at http://www.weightlossguru.com/blog.
The show has been on a roll lately. Nothing but classics!
Thanks so much for all of your downloads. You guys rock!
Kinda Obsessed with Ducks Lately…
Brilliant insight Sean. Glad to see you ran with the “Shut the duck up” Methinks I see your next book title ;0) Seriously though, this distorted thinking is one area of psychology that intrigues me because it is the single most powerful barrier to ultimate truth. It is what impedes us from becomming the Ultimate Athlete or Professional Human Beings we all can be. If you want to get in to any of the foundational concepts in term of the pathology of distorted thinking, you could read up on Albert Ellis’ Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). He’s the guy who coined the term, “musterbations”. I don’t know if anybody has sought to explain this phenomenon of self-limitation from an evolutionary perspective but I’d imagine there is some practical use for it. We just need to find ways to mitigate the ill-effects.
I thoroughly enjoy all the psychological stuff you address in posts and podcasts – the stuff that keeps us all from reaching our fullest potential in all facets of life: physical, emotional, career, relationships, etc. The process never ends so it’s always relevant & timely!
Musterbations! I’m going to have to steal that one, Bobby! 🙂
Thanks for reading. The duck is what keeps a lot of goals from being achieved. I wish more people knew how to deal with it.
I’ll have to check into REBT when I have some free time.
I appreciate the recommendation.
Thanks, Paula. Yep, mindset is such a missing piece in this health and fitness space. Hopefully we can help more people become aware of the connections between health and the facets of life you mentioned.
Finally got around to listening to this. It was awesome. I read a bumper sticker a couple of months ago that said “Don’t believe everything you think.” I’ve been using this phrase as my mantra recently.
Thank you Sean for more great work!
Would love to shut the duck up! Have you heard of the FLY lady? She is the motivation/organization/antiprocrastination guru of housework.
She calls “the duck” “Franny,” as in “get off your ‘Franny.'” You should check her out.
Awesome post! Especially for entrepreneurs, the degree to which your duck acts up plays a huge role in one’s success. I keep my duck on ritalin.. I mean ashwaganda, rhodiola, lavender and magnesium.