Hacking Your Subconscious in the Discount Aisle
The Best $2 I’ve Ever Spent
This is a bit of a misc post tonight. I’ve only got ten minutes, so bear with me.
Last week I made an impulse purchase decision.
It was a pack of 6 Hershey’s chocolate hot-cross buns from the discount bakery at Countdown.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking - huh? Why is he writing about supermarket shopping? Man he’s gotten desperate for ideas.
Well, I’ve actually got plenty of ideas. I’m writing about it because this purchase was a defining point in my life.
Don’t believe me? Read on to find out.
First for some background
I eat healthy meals for dinner, I don’t have much processed food, and I exercise every day. I have done so for most of my adult life. I think it’s fair to say I care a decent bit about my health. My body is my most valuable asset I have and I believe if I don’t care enough to look after it, then I can’t trust myself to look after anything.
However up until a month ago, I had one problem. About every second night, I would get cravings for bread. I don’t plan for this to happen in advance, so I don’t actually buy any bread when I go for my weekly supermarket shopping and their’s none in the flat. So about every second night, I would walk to the supermarket, buy some discount bakery item, and eat it all in one sitting.
It was a disgustingly shameful habit, especially since I like to consider myself as disciplined and a healthy individual.
I would irrationally justify my habit on the grounds that I only ever bought bread at half price, so I was ‘saving money’. I knew it was a lie, but I was willing to believe it to overcome the cognitive dissonance in my mind.
I was addicted. Every time I swiped my card at the checkout counter, my conscious brain was telling me no. But my subconscious brain was telling me YES.
Apparently YES beats no.
It all changed when…
A week ago, I took my usual trip to the supermarket to buy some bread. Just before I brought the bread to the checkout counter, my conscious mind decided enough was enough, and came up with a brilliant idea.
I bought the bread. But, this time I didn’t eat it. I brought it back to the flat, looked it straight in the eye, and placed it gently in the cupboard. I made a promise there and then that I would never eat this bread.
Since then, I’ve never bought discount bread from the supermarket. The addiction vanished. I just don’t feel the need.
Why? I’m not really sure, to be honest!
Here are some theories I have:
- Maybe the main reason I was addicted to discount bread was because I could justify it by ‘saving money’. Now that I already have hot cross buns in the house, going out to buy more is a clear waste of money. My subconscious can’t justify it. This still doesn’t explain why I haven’t eaten the hot-cross buns in the cupboard though.
- When I am not having cravings, my subconscious brain thinks it looks sickly and sweet. This experience makes me prepared for when I do have cravings, because I know that my conscious brain doesn’t really want it.
Weird but cool, huh?
If you have one, I’d love to hear a better psychological explanation for this (looking at you Angus). I do irrational things all the time, and it would be great if I could use a similar technique to fix those too.
Anyway I’ve gone overtime, so I’ll leave it at that.