At least once daily I hear someone say that they don’t have willpower; it is usually referenced to their eating habits and lack of ability to lose weight.
What is will power? Is it an emotional thing? Is it a behavioral thing? Is it somehow related to our self-confidence, self-worth, or self-esteem? Do we say that we don’t have self-control so that others won’t think we failed or so that we personally won’t feel like failures? What is it?
Only you know how you feel about willpower, self-control and self-discipline. Only you will know why it has a strong hold on you. It might take deep self-evaluation but you can begin to understand the hold it has on you personally. Understanding might help you move to the next level, the level above lack of willpower.
In order to begin figuring out your personal relationship with willpower it’s necessary to understand what willpower means, so here goes. Willpower as defined in the dictionary means; (1) the strength of will to carry out one’s decisions, wishes or plans, (2) the ability to control oneself and to determine one’s actions, (3) firmness of will; control of one’s impulses and actions; determination; self-control.
So then, what is self-control? (1) Control of one’s emotions, desires, or actions by one’s own will (2) the ability to exercise restraint or control over one’s feelings, emotions, reactions or actions, etc.
And self-discipline: (1) training and control of oneself and one’s conduct, usually for personal improvement.
How can we put all those definitions to use? There are a few key words in each definition that will be helpful. Strength, ability, firmness, determination, control, own will, exercise, and training. These words are the actions, the reminders of what we will use and build up in order to improve our willpower.
Our minds have incredible strength, so much strength that it allows us to give up with what we think is a logical excuse. We end it there; we forget about our true abilities, firmness, determination, and own will. It is our own will to stop at one plate of food with reasonable portions or to get that second plate because you may have trained yourself to think you are weak. But you’re wrong, you’re not weak, you are worth it, you are deserving of all the good things life offers you
So, what now?
It’s time to get some willpower exercise and training-key words again. The way we can get willpower exercise is by working on it one day at a time; one hour at a time-do whatever it takes. Six points you can work on are
-Preparation – bring a lunch or a snack with you when you’re going to be out for an extended period of time so that you can avoid the drive through or the convenience stores. OJ, carry a small carton of orange juice with you and drink it when you’re feeling that stress time coming on, that’s the time when you are most likely to binge on anything and everything. Our brains run on glucose and when glucose is low our willpower is low; orange juice helps to feed the brain.
-Mood lifting – when we are stressed out from the day our willpower is at its lowest, choose to do something every day preferably after your stressful day, that makes you happy, a walk, the gym, playing with your pet, your kids, meditation, reminding yourself that the work day is over and the rest is yours, watch a local baseball/softball team, whatever it is that lifts your spirits…don’t include alcohol since that alters your mood.
-Set goals/intentions at the beginning of each day, set realistic ones and use post-it notes for reminders but get creative with them with different words-even words that only you know what they’re for
-Eliminate unhealthy foods from your kitchen, out of sight, out of mind, it works! Stock healthy choices.
-Imagine your future self; describe him/her on post-it notes as well
-Cheat. Yes! It’s okay to indulge at least once a week. By indulge I mean in a controlled manner. Have a treat, don’t deprive yourself, use that ‘cheat’ as a reminder of the reward you can have at the end of your week of successful self-discipline.
Bonus tip: Support yourself as you would support others. Listen to how you react to friends who tell you that they didn’t follow through on ‘xyz’, or how they did ABC and give yourself the same love and encouragement you typically lend to others because you deserve the best!