The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

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What Is 'Inhibition'?

Inhibition is the ability to temporarily override our natural inclinations.

Willpower is the fuel of Inhibition. Whenever we inhibit our natural responses to our environment, willpower is at work.

Inhibiting certain decisions or responses can be beneficial, but our ability inhibit has limitations (see Willpower Depletion).

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Inhibition'

Believe it or not, most of your daily actions require very little conscious thought.

Most of the time, our bodies and minds on autopilot-our minds sense the world around us, compare our environment and actions against internal Reference Levels, and act accordingly.

Think about driving a car: with practice, your body does everything necessary to keep the car on the road, without requiring much conscious thought.

Every once in a while, however, it pays to ignore the autopilot and do something different. If you stumble across a bear in the woods, the last thing you want to do is run, even though that's what your instincts may be telling you to do. If you run, the bear is likely to decide you look like lunch and chase you down.

Instead of running, it's actually more effective to stand your ground and make yourself appear as big and loud and threatening as you can. Appearing to be a threat requires you to consciously inhibit your natural response, but it'll cause the bear to see you as a threat and decide to leave you alone.

Inhibition is the ability to temporarily override our natural inclinations.

If you've ever put up with one of your siblings (or colleagues) acting immature, obnoxious, or annoying, inhibition prevented you from doing something you would have regretted later.

Willpower is the fuel of inhibition.

As we discussed in The Onion Brain, the forebrain's job is ambiguity resolution, decision-making, and inhibition. Whenever we inhibit our natural responses to our environment, willpower is at work. Our midbrain and hindbrain are the autopilot, and the forebrain is the override.

In that sense, "free will" is a bit misleading-"free won't" is a more accurate description.

Inhibiting certain decisions or responses can be beneficial, but our ability to inhibit has limitations, which we'll discuss next.

Questions About 'Inhibition'


"Inhibition is the ability to stop: to delay our response until we are adequately prepared to make it."

Michael Gelb, author of Body Learning: An Introduction to the Alexander Technique and How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci


From Chapter 6:

The Human Mind


https://personalmba.com/inhibition/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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