(I know: willpower and Valentine's Day are subjects that don't usually go together!)

At the end of this post, I'll tell you about a gift that you can give your partner this Valentine's Day that will earn you more brownie points than you can believe. But first I want to remind you of the willpower research we talked about in October, and share some other research I learned about recently regarding the difference in processing power in the conscious and unconscious mind.

Willpower Is a Mental Workout

According to an experiment published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (I talked about this earlier):

Just one act of self-control depletes your ability to have self-control in another unrelated area.

For example, when subjects were told not to eat chocolates sitting right in front of them, their persistence in puzzle solving deteriorated. When they were told to suppress an emotional reaction to a movie, they had problems solving a solvable anagram [source 1, below].

This is the overwhelming reason why willpower only works in the short term. You only have the conscious resources to exhibit willpower on one (or at the most two) fronts at one time.

This is why it is SO HARD to stay disciplined with eating, exercise, new goals, studying, and the like.

Any self-regulatory strategy has costs with respect to depleting a person's general resources for self regulation [source 2, below].

>Accomplishing Goals without Depleting Willpower

Your conscious mind is only able to process approximately 50 bits of information a second, while your unconscious mind processes approximately 11 million bits per second [source 3, below].

That means your unconscious mind processes information about 220 THOUSAND TIMES FASTER than your conscious mind.

Much of the time, your conscious mind is actually the bottleneck towards effecting true change, as its main role is getting you through the day in the here and now AND setting long term goals. (Researchers call this "Executive Control.")

The Trick Is to Have the Triggers for Your Desired Behaviors Reside in Your Unconscious Mind

For example, if your goal is weight control, you would naturally want your unconscious mind to automatically desire healthy green foods, water, healthy portions, exercise, etc.—without having to think about it consciously.

If your goal is to be more productive, you would want the actions of setting goals, rewarding yourself for success, focusing on your projects to be automatic.

If you have to consciously think about it all the time, you will exhaust your resources.

If your goal is to have a better relationship, you would want to somehow program in natural triggers for listening, paying attention, giving space, and showing empathy . . . instead of always having to think about them.

These are just a few examples, but I think you get the picture.

Now Back to Valentine's Day

We publish a program created by Dr. Michele Ritterman, a world renowned couple's therapist who studied hypnosis with Milton Erickson personally, that is kind of mind-blowing.

The product is called Shared Couple's Trance. Because of their deep impact, Dr. Ritterman has been using these sessions in her practice since the 1970s. You listen together with your partner (my wife and I listen while lying down on the bed) as Dr. Ritterman guides you through 2 hypnotic sessions.

It is amazingly relaxing, and actually pretty romantic (not a word I use often!).

What Happens, and Why It Is Such a Great Gift

The result is that not only will the night go very well, but over the next week or so, you will find that communication becomes much easier — you will start to talk through some things that might have been difficult before.

Don't get me wrong —it's not a magic bullet. It does, however, give you the opportunity to re-connect, re-invigorate, and improve your relationship if you give it a chance.

Here is what Silvia Hartmann reported about the program:

"The two days following this session have been most surprising to us both. We began talking about issues that we had never addressed before, and I would really say that we began to look at each other in a whole new light. This is not something I would say lightly, nor is it something that I would have expected to have happened; after all, we have known each other for a very long time now and I'm sure we thought we'd gotten to the bottom of each other by now."

I think almost every couple should at least try this program. No matter how weird it sounds!

It does all go back to the willpower discussion earlier in this email. You can tell yourself you are going to listen more, be more empathetic, and so forth . . . but you know it won't last because at the first sign of stress you will forget.

It Needs to Happen Unconsciously

And guys, we did an informal survey. Almost every woman we asked said that if their partner came home with this program they would be both shocked and delighted! Think about it . . .

So Here Is the Deal

This is a very inexpensive program — normally $39. And for a limited time, you can get it for just $29. (Offer good through the end of February.) I think it is a no-brainer. Again, just the fact that you care enough to get this for you and your partner says a lot.


Sources Cited in the This Post:

Source 1: RE Baumeister, E Bratslavsky, M Muraven, and DM Tice. "Ego Depletion: Is the Active Self a Limited Resource?" Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 74, 1998.

Source 2: Moraven, M., Tice, D. M., & Baumeister, R. F. (1998). "Self-control as a limited resource: Regulatory depletion pattern." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74. 774-789.

Source 3: Zimmerman, M. (1989). "The nervous system in the context of information theory." In R. F. Schmidt & G. Thews (eds.), Human Physiology, pp. 166-173. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.