YANSS 059 – How the illusion of control leads you to perpetually wait for your life to begin

Over the years, when most patients have first met psychiatrist Michael I. Bennett, they have tended to believe they would soon to get to know a trusted confidant who would sit quietly, listen intently, and eventually deliver something he says is scientifically impossible: a way to make all their bad feelings go away.

“I’d say, ‘Well, what’s your goal with this problem?’ explains Bennett. “And they would say, ‘Of course, it’s to feel better. It’s to improve it. It’s to solve it,’ and I’d be essentially saying, ‘Fuck that! That’s not going to happen.'”

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In the show, you’ll hear Michael elaborate on why that is. In this episode, our guests are Harvard-trained psychiatrist Michael I. Bennett and his comedy writer daughter Sarah Bennett whose new book, F*ck Feelings, makes the case for accepting the illusion of control as a guiding principle for living a better life.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 12.41.58 PMTime and again, study after study, psychologists have found that in situations in which the outcomes are clearly, undoubtable random or otherwise outside the realm of control, people tend to latch onto any shred of evidence that could be interpreted otherwise. It’s a habit that can lead to self-loathing, ineffectual strategies for change, and lives filled with missed opportunities and squandered productivity.

As the Bennetts explain in the book, most people seek a therapist in an effort to actively deny that they don’t have any control over their emotions. Stuck in a neurotic, fruitless loop, people begin to wonder why they can’t achieve perpetual happiness or erase their proclivity to procrastinate. If they could just fix the things they see as broken, they could then become the people they’ve always wanted to be and finally begin their lives.

But just how much control do you really have over your feelings or your essential nature? According to the Bennetts, much less than you would like to believe. Your efforts are better spent elsewhere.

In this episode, listen as Michael and Sarah explain what you should be doing instead, and why they say – “Fuck feelings.”

After the interview, I discuss a news story about how people can be fooled into believing a meal is delicious when told a master chef cooked the meal.

In every episode, after I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is Tiffany R Carrell who submitted a recipe for buttermilk cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.

Links and Sources

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Previous Episodes

Boing Boing Podcasts

Cookie Recipes

The Illusion of Control

Fuck Feelings

Can A Meal’s Presentation Change Your Perception Of Its Overall Quality?