“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” – Albert Einstein
Let’s just define that word in the headline. What the front door is “akrasia”?
Well, akrasia basically defined as acting against one’s better judgement or lacking command over oneself.
I had a brief bitchfest over the phone with a friend of mine who’s a music producer. We deal with the same kind of issues so I had to ventilate my frustration over one of these bullshit-artists that i’d been working with.
What happened was that the artist needed some guidance. I knew based on experience that there was a 99% probability (isn’t it a “certainty” at that point?) they would not follow through. And still, STILL, against my better judgement I still set aside time for them.
They obviously hadn’t made any preparations (WHATSOEVER!) when we checked back. And so, you know, fuck ’em. But you can’t really say that so it was more like: “Ok, akra-see-ya-later!”.
This pissed me off because I made time for someone who obviously shows a blatant disregard for other people’s time (i’m not special, this is more or less modus operandi).
What pisses me off more is that because this person has some talent and ability to put out quality work they’re kind of exempt from having to deal with the consequences.
But the thing that reaches the top of Mount Pistov? That I completely wittingly, knowing the astonishingly plausible outcome, said: “Sure, let’s schedule it!”. Fucking. Dumbass.
Had I actually shown any consideration for myself or a healthy consideration for actually helping the other person overcome their bullshittery I would have said: “Look, you obviously don’t have any intention of actually following through with what you’re saying. My time would be better spent doing something that I care about or helping people who don’t just say they need my help but actually DO need my help. Buh-bye! CLICK!”.
So, now that i’ve revisited that godawful story let’s get back to akrasia! Yaaay!
Some people say that an akratic person has a lack of “will”. That’s not entirely true in my experience. What they do lack is knowledge that they have another UNKNOWN will that they act upon.
Let’s say you’re tired of drinking. You decide to stop drinking. You know it’s bad for your health etc, etc. Great! You’ve got INTENT! Your intent is to stop drinking. In a perfect world your intent matches your ACTION.
In an akratic person there’s a dissonance between a persons intent and their action. They may intend to do A but end up doing B.
This is usually because they have something called a “unknown functional intent” (UFI). The person thinks their functional intent is to do A (stop drinking) but their unknown functional intent is B (to keep the shots coming!).
The person is basically fooling themselves into thinking that they want one thing when they want something else. This is in most cases followed by shame, remorse etc.
So let’s chart this out!
- The person’s perceived intent was A so they called me.
- The person thought their intent would match the action of A
- The person didn’t realize their UFI was B
- The person’s action was B
The result? Complete kaka. A waste of their time and mine.
So how do we change this? The first thing is to understand the underlying issue which is that the person doesn’t have enough leverage over their UFI to act in any other fashion. The “pain” of changing their behavior is higher than the pain of continuing their current behavior.
There are other things that play a role in this as well. Things like desires (love, power, food etc.) can alter a person’s actions.
Let’s say that you don’t have any money and your kid is starving. You know it’s wrong to steal a loaf of bread from the store. What do you do?
Obviously, you steal the bread. Then you proceed to bludgeon the kid with the loaf. I mean, jeez, no one needs that guilt trip.
Look, I still believe that people aren’t their actions. If a person acts a certain way they’re not doomed to act that way indefinitely.
The only way we can change this is to understand the underlying principles that govern our behavior. Some people choose not to explore this and unless something dramatic happens that either forces them to act in a different manner they’re more or less likely to continue operating in that way. Like I said: Unless.
So what’ve I learned from this?
To be forthcoming and honest regardless of how much i’d prefer not to hurt anyone’s feelings. Atleast when I feel like it would benefit the person. No need to be mean just to make yourself feel good. But, man, would it really feel good sometimes!
Then, of course, is the matter of acting according to my better judgement! If I know that i’m doing something not because I want to, but for some desire to get approval or whatever else could be clouding my judgement; I simply DON’T!
As soon as the thought of “I know I shouldn’t but…” crosses my mind it should send a code brown that makes me do one of two things:
Number one, just say “no”.
Or, number two.