Shocking News to Say the Least

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I’m sincerely worried. Actually, more alarmed than worried. There’s a new product scheduled to hit the marketplace in 2015, and I’m predicting it’s gonna go big. It’s called the Pavlok, a device you wear that “adds accountability and electric shock to change your habits and train your behavior.”  Yup, you heard me right “electric shock.” Another quote from the website:  “Meet Pavlok — the first device that helps you form good habits, break bad habits, and stick to your commitments, using any means necessary.  You getting the gist? Here’s how it works: You download the app, pair it with the device, choose the behavior or habit you want to change and program it to beep, vibrate or shock you to keep you “on track.” I’m predicting — and I have a feeling the company is too — most people will utilize the shock setting.

So, basically, when you don’t follow through with what you said you would, the device is programmed to send an electric shock wave into your body telling you, you’ve failed and deserve, more like need, to be punished.  Which is great news because everyone knows physically painful reminders of personal failures work wonders in motivating us to succeed, right? The underlying message of the Pavlok is this:  You are intrinsically incapable of changing your behavior; you need an external, pain-producing prompter to do what it is you have not done, nor cannot do yourself.

In my mind, the Pavlok is the Grand Dame of stupid concepts. I mean, there have been tons of dumb stuff people have purchased in the past.  Case in point:  The Pet Rock and The Finger Dance Mat.

pet rockfinger_dancemat

But self-inducing pain when you don’t meet a goal?  Have you ever seen a golden retriever putting up his own invisible fence?  And it’s not an opposable thumb issue either! Plus, the last I checked, we are a few steps higher on the food chain and supposedly that means we’re smarter.  Not only is this concept stupid and insulting…IT WON’T WORK!  There is no credible science-based study, qualified weight loss professional, or certified behavioral psychologist that would back this theory as a viable tool to producing sustainable changes in behaviors we don’t like about ourselves.

And here’s the icing on the cake:  Based on their website bio’s, no one on the Pavlok team is credentialed in the areas of health, weight loss, psychology or human behavior. I guess they think you won’t notice or don’t care.  Well sign me up! Everybody knows engineers, software and hardware developers are totally qualified to help people lose weight!

Hey I have an idea: let’s broaden the scope of what this baby can do. I really hate that I get up in the middle of the night because I have to go to the bathroom. How about the next time I wake up with the urge to go, I just program this gismo to “remind” me that I am completely inept at figuring out what my body needs. That’ll teach me. I mean, do I really need to go, or am I weak? Maybe somebody or something needs to straighten my ass out.

Here’s the real deal when it comes to embracing and sustaining a new healthy behavior: No external motivator, especially the kind that sends electrical currents through your body, can get you to change. We just aren’t wired that way. If you want to take on a new behavior in the name of self-improvement, you have to figure out why it’s important to you and what your reasons are for wanting to change, then connect the reason(s) to your plan of action.   Internal motivators + personal values = long lasting change. Wanting to start an exercise program or wanting to stop smoking isn’t enough. Clarifying why the redirection is important to you provides a stable foundation sturdy enough to sustain all the ups and downs, two steps forward, one step back, and difficult times that are inherent to the process of change.

Please, renew my faith in mankind.  Don’t buy this product.