Identity helps us make otherwise difficult choices by offloading willpower. Our choices become what we do because of who we are.
Can’t Kick a Bad Habit? You’re Probably Doing It Wrong
Nir Eyal
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This statement is what I see as part of the draw (and double-edged sword) of purposeful religious affiliation. The labels and maxims derived from laws, commandments, and doctrines are powerful ways to exercise near-effortless self-control because the active will (and, consequently, thinking) is no longer needed. This is a huge reason, among many, why I left organized religion. And yet, now that I’ve been purposefully out of any social structure resembling religion for many years (political party included), I find that I spend a lot of time and energy doing things that otherwise could be simplified if I were to actively adopt the labels and maxims of a religious identity. I agree that replacing bad habits with good ones is not a panacea as Duhigg implies, and can even backfire into a larger amount of effortful and costly mental/emotional/physical activities than can be supported. Where I now struggle is in how to find healthy affiliation and identity with any organization without being completely turned off by the very human flaws that encumber … well, everything. And yes, I include my own self-loathing and flaws in that indictment. But that’s not a problem anyone else can solve for me.

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