What is akrasia?

What the fuck is akrasia? It means ‘the state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgment through weakness of will’. Let me tell you how it fucks your shit up.

Procrastination is akrasia’s major symptom, and it’s effects aren’t just a lot of last minute panic. You usually put things off so you can enjoy fun things for a little longer. But knowing the guilt to come, you can’t even fully enjoy what you’re doing. In the back of your mind there is this constant tune of unhappiness, even if you’re laughing at the asshole cat videos on YouTube. Do this long enough and small things begin to fail to make you happy.

Instant Gratification is another sign of akrasia, and in some ways it’s even more disempowering than procrastination. Say you have a massive emotional moment that leads you to make a powerful decision. Could be you’re going to start writing a novel. Or start working out, or start an activist group for a cause you strongly believe in. You start with zeal and vigor. One week later the project is ancient history, with half-written documents or twice used exercise equipments reminding you that you’re a quitter. That’s cause akrasia is a ‘gift’ mindset, where you want all the good results immediately, as if the mere decision was enough to make your project a success. And if you’re not rewarded with huge results immediately it becomes too hard to stick to your resolution. These projects need a ‘growth’ mindset. What’s upshot of this? You start mistrusting your emotions. You shut down the ways you react to something. Your mouth says ‘I love you’, but your own brain believes you less and less. You stop looking for things to be moved by and act on, because you know you’ll give up. And when you stop living up to the standards you profess to love, you begin to stop loving yourself.

Symptom 3, Insecurity, the stage for which was set by the first two symptoms. Telling yourself you’ll do it later is the first lie you tell yourself. Telling yourself you’ll do it at all is the second lie. And once those lies have been adding up for a long enough time, it begins to show up as insecurity. You’ve literally made your own mind insecure about your decision making. So you come off as insecure in interviews. You can’t hold your own in debates. You have a hard time telling someone you’re attracted to them. Why? Because your brain is second-guessing every word coming out of your mouth. Fake it till you make it, you say? For those suffering from akrasia, the size of that deception would have to be so great that you’d effectively be a sociopath or narcissist who refuses to believe they could be wrong.

Disassociation. Symptom 4. You’re emotionally cut off from yourself. You’re intellectually cut off from yourself. And because by this time people have learned to stop trusting you, your social connections have dwindled. You’ve not only become comfortable with failing, you’ve become comfortable with expecting failure the next time you’re given a chance. You KNOW you’re going to fail every time, and you’re okay with that. The thought of people trusting you feels like a burden. To feel better, you turn harder to dopamine activators like food, alcohol, drugs, and binge-watching. And at the end of this, you realise you’ve completely given up trying to control your life. You begin to feel like a total spectator, like someone paralyzed, watching the world through the window of your eyes, but totally unable to play.

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