Dark Horse Tamed
Nip It in the Bud!
If you’ve nipped something in the bud, it means you’ve stopped a minor problem or situation from becoming a much more difficult one. The phrase originally comes from gardening — a flower that’s nipped in the bud won’t bloom and grow.
For many of us, it can be both challenging and frustrating when we try to nip our problems in the bud. And one of the reasons is that we tend to overestimate our abilities, including our ability to control our impulses and temptations (our Dark horse). This phenomenon is known as restraint bias. Essentially, we believe that we are much better at controlling ourselves (and restraining our Dark horse) than we actually are.
Think when was the last time you said you were going to do one thing and did the exact opposite. For example, I was just telling myself that I wasn’t going to eat all my sandwich for lunch today — that I’d save the other half for this evening. But guess what? That sandwich is already gone!
One of the easiest ways to avoid restraint bias is by putting yourself in a situation in which you don’t need to test your self-control. In other words, be sure to nip those temptations and impulses in the bud! If working in the living room distracts you, then work somewhere else, away from the remote control; if the internet distracts you, then work on Airplane mode. If you see Holiday sweets (long gone are the days in which the office donut was the cause of temptation) at the kitchen counter and know you won’t be able to stop yourself, then hide them or get away from the kitchen.
Most of us are not nearly as effective at controlling our Dark horses as we would like to be, so the best solution is, don’t put your Dark horse to the test in the first place! Nip ip in the bud!