Ugh Fields

  • If you’re getting constant negative conditioning via unhappy thoughts, you’ll develop a reflexive aversion to the subject of those thoughts
  • Ugh fields don’t start out as a flinch – start with real, but minor negative consequences
  • Negative consequences cause you to develop flinch
  • Flinch makes you worse at the thing, which leads to more negative consequences
  • Eventually you have trouble doing the thing at all, as your subconscious has taken over making it difficult to even think about the topic
  • At this point it’s like the object or activity has developed a repulsion field around it - this is the Ugh Field
  • Result of temporal difference learning
    • Associate psychological pain with earliest stimulus that led to the pain
    • Engage in displacement activity rather than doing the thing that causes psychological pain
  • Possible antidotes
    • Look for the flinch response – mindfulness
    • Visualize how much better your life would be without the Ugh Field getting in your way
    • Identify your reactions, write them down, and try to put some distance between yourself and your unconscious reaction

Rubber Duck Debugging

  • Explain your problem, in as much detail as you can to a rubber duck and often the solution will just pop out at you
  • Sometimes, forcing yourself into the outside view is all it takes