Lessons From the Gray Zone Between QS and CBT
mood & emotion
Michael Kazarnowics is a personal trainer and an active QS member since 2003. He talks about the lessons from the gray zone between self-hacking and self-tracking, with an emphasis on the intersection of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and QS.
Okay, when I was getting ready for this conference. I got an email from Gary asking me if I could do a session and I was like that I had started looking into the personal development and CBT connections between Quantified Self and I was like yeah I can do something about it. Had I known I would be this nervous I would never had said yes, which is interesting because I’m used to giving lectures, but I don’t think I’m used to standing in front of this many billions of people.
So I’m going to talk about a couple of lessons that I have learned from working in the Quantified Self and self-tracking CBT.
So my name is Michael Kazarnowicz or Micke if you are Swedish and my title is digital (? 00:58), the spelling is intentional. It’s another experiment that I’m conducting for my professional work. I’ve been into Quantified Itself roughly since 2003, a personal trainer, so that’s sort of my background.
For those of you who don’t know CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is a branch of psychology that aims not to find why you are acting in a certain way, instead you’re looking at reprogramming your autopilot, because all the things we do are done by autopilot, and that autopilot is run by emotions and we can actually effect that by choosing what we think, or how we act and that is a really good way of affecting our emotions and how we are feeling about our self.
A good example of this is if we wake up in the middle of the night with a crashing sound and think oh my god, burglar, you are going to be afraid and have a whole different reaction with both feeling and in behaviour. Whereas if you wake up and think damn cat, you have a whole other set and in both, you have no idea what happened, but your thoughts will shape your feelings and your actions.
I realise that I had been using CBT in the form without even knowing it, since roughly 1997, which is when I started doing things that scared the hell out of me because that’s the only really way to not let fear stand in the way of doing the things I want to do. So I have thought every year I should do something scary, which began back in 1997 and this is me in 2009 when I’m bungee jumping for the second time and since I have already bungee jumped I thought how can you make it scarier, I thought get naked. So this is me bungee jumping naked, and it’s actually works because I’m not very comfortable with doing scary stuff otherwise. But when I put this into relation of bungee jumping or moving to New York, or whatever nothing becomes that scary.
Everything accelerated when I started working at (? 02:57) Island and for those of you who are not familiar it’s one of the best digital schools in the world and I know that a huge part of the success is in the group dynamics and the self-management, and the self-leadership that is taught there and I had to work with these tools, so this is where it accelerated for me. And I started going to CBT, and one thing that CBT preaches is that mindfulness that you should be mindful, because only if you are aware of what your autopilot is doing, only then can you change what it is doing because if you have no idea and you will never be able to change it. So for example, in the way that you walk to work every day, that is chosen by the autopilot and we don’t often think consciously that I’m going to take this road. And if you want to change it you have to be aware of that.
But I also realise that this is that you can actually look at it from the other way that Quantified Self could be an excuse and not to really feel or be mindful, because you just measure it. But the thing is that Quantified Self and mindfulness can actually go to get there, and I realised that I hadn’t been using my – I use my blog a lot for personal blog posts to begin with, and I realise that today I almost never basically right no personal blog posts. This is about the time when I registered for the conference, and I started looking into it.
What is interesting, these red lines are the total of my blog post and the blue line is my personal blog posts. You can see in the beginning that there are lots of personal blog posts, and then it goes down and essentially disappears, but I haven’t stopped blogging and I still do blog.
Coincidentally, another thing I found out when I went back, which I would never have been able to because I was not mindful of it was that the dips that you see occur every winter, which made sense because winter is dark and you get less energy. But if you had asked me back in 2006 does the dark affect you, I would have said no, it doesn’t. But obviously it does and I can definitely see the pattern there.
But the interesting thing was that I had blogged less about personal things. So then what I did was I plotted it out, by using percentages and this is the percentage; how many percent are the personal blog posts out of my total blog posts.
As you can see again, a lot in the beginning and then something happened and this is May 09 and the level goes down drastically, and I realized that this is when I finished with my CBT, so that was the last day with my CBT therapy. And I had gotten a tool for reflection, which I’d previously used my blog for. So my blog has been my personal blog posts, which had been a way of talking to myself and of actually being conscious and actually I had no need for it.
Then when I actually looked at it there is a drop and a middle line, so there is another drop in 11, and I was thinking what happened then I got my Fitbit. So that’s when I got it, and I started walking a lot and walking leaves room for actual thinking and doing stuff. So from all of a sudden, that affected me, but I did not get my Fitbit in order to track that. What I wanted to do was experiment, because this is me at 19/20 and then me again at 25, and I used to be chubby or fat if you will, and I wasn’t very happy with it. I was actually very unhappy with that state, and then I started working out with a personal trainer and I got in really good shape. But just because your body becomes fit doesn’t mean that your mental image becomes fit, so mentally I was feeling chubby, which of course led to a very unhealthy amount of exercise because I could actually push anxiety down.
I wanted to see if I got a Fitbit can I help it to relieve that, and it did. So as soon as I got my Fitbit I could actually start working out less, so today, I’m working out three days a week because I am walking so much. Even though I still haven’t changed the mental image it’s on its way and well on its way since I got my Fitbit.
So what happened there, you can see in the beginning there was lots of measurements and those are back in 2007, I walked a lot and this was still in the time when I was trying to figure out to make sure that my mental image of me not being chubby any more than taking that image to see if walking can make me exercise less.
Then I moved to New York for a year and I didn’t bring the Withing’s Scale, so I didn’t measure. What is interesting is I worked out as much, and I ate American food which tends to be kind of unhealthy, and obviously I gained weight, which I actually wasn’t aware of because I didn’t use the scale. And since I see myself in the mirror every day I couldn’t really see it. But the interesting thing is that the Fitbit had actually change might mental image, so when I came back and was at a higher level and start measuring I still didn’t feel chubby because the Fitbit sort of helped me. So those are my insights so far.