Are you guilty of information avoidance?

Next month I will complete my seventh year of writing this blog. What started out as a ‘weight loss’ blog has developed into a total mental and physical health resource and I am grateful for the following it has developed. I can honestly say that within six months of starting the blog, I began to feel conversant with various aspects of my own personal health. I had learned and paid attention to how much I was consuming at and away from the table. What’s more I kept my exercising activities in focus also. I believe that as a result of that experience I have not only lost over 10 more pounds since starting, but have maintained that healthy weight with nearly no fluctuations outside of five pounds, plus or minus. One of the aspects of that experience is that I am willing to confront anything that looks like a developing problem when it appears on my radar.

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I wanted to discuss that because before starting the blog for the majority of my life I had struggled with a weight problem. Because I have an athletic background, my activities disguised my poor eating habits for years. Hitting my late 20’s, however, the chickens started coming home to roost and I gained weight and declined in health for years afterward. One of the features of that period was a reluctance to truly face the problem. I wouldn’t weigh myself as regularly. I wouldn’t admit that I was tiring a lot earlier than previously.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had a fascinating item on ‘information avoidance’ or ‘strategic ignorance’ by Elizabeth Bernstein.

I absolutely was guilty of that. Talk about sticking your head into the sand like an ostrich.

“We want to think of ourselves as healthy and smart, people who make good decisions, so we resist information that challenges these beliefs,” says James Shepperd, a professor of psychology at the University of Florida.

This one probably applies to the two-thirds of the population who are overweight, “People also avoid information if they don’t trust it, feel it won’t help them or think it might force them into action they don’t want to take. A person could know he gained weight but still avoid stepping on a scale if he knew he wasn’t ready to diet or exercise.” (my emphasis)

“Dr. Shepperd and a colleague showed that when people feel they have some control over the outcome of information, they’re more likely to agree to hear it.”

My experience in writing this blog was exactly that. I no longer was afraid to confront my fears of being overweight and damaging my health. That change in attitude actually occurred. I knew that I had tools to handle the situation.

Here is how the Journal article concluded:

“Remind yourself that you have some control over the situation. If you are avoiding health information, remember that you can decide what type of treatment to seek. Finding out that information early will give you even more options.

“Research shows that even thinking about the control people have in other areas of life helps them stop avoiding unwanted information. It makes it seem less overwhelming, says Lauren Griffin, director of external research for frank, an organization that aggregates academic research to drive social change, based at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications.

“Then ask yourself why you are avoiding the information. Contemplate why the information might be helpful—perhaps it is a medical test and acting on it early could save your life—or unhelpful.”

So, if you think you might be avoiding information, consider using these tools to help deal with it. The life you save may be your own.

Tony

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4 Comments

Filed under information avoidance, Wall Street Journal, weight control, weight loss

4 responses to “Are you guilty of information avoidance?

  1. Very informative. It’s good to know feeling a sense of control helps combat the avoidance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Tony. People like using “time” as their excuse for avoidance. In reality the time spent learning creates greater self confidence and empowerment reducing stress and improving healthier outcomes. You are a shining example of this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your kind words, Jonathan. It’s fascinating how this all works. As a retired financial journalist, this ‘health’ world is all new to me. And, there are fresh developments regularly. I truly believe I learn something new every day. Stay healthy!

      Liked by 1 person

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