The Myth of Willpower

The notion of ‘willpower’ can be such a trigger, because it’s deeply rooted in the way we view and connect to our personal decisions. The very idea is potentially damaging because it aligns our degree of willpower with our degree of worthiness. This is especially true in the world of health and wellness. Many have tried to counter the subtle (or not so subtle) practice of body shaming with ‘body positive’ imagery and messaging. But the truth is that such actions can mostly be viewed as a response to the broader container, because the practice was born to counter the current mainstream. This is neither good nor bad… it’s simply an observation of the reality. It can help, and it certainly can’t hurt. Unfortunately in the larger scheme, it does little to soothe the inner critic in millions of minds and bodies, who personally shame themselves for not having the ‘willpower’ to resist whatever their temptation may be.
It’s such taboo to speak of such things because it’s easier to pretend that all things are equal and if we just had enough ‘willpower’ everything would be fine. But because we connect the notion of willpower to the idea of self-worth, it gets harder to see the place where we are in an objective sense and make the solid choice to stay, or change. Neither of those choices has jack or s**t to do with willpower.
So what can you do?

INFORMATIONThe first way to combat myth of willpower is to see everything around you as an opportunity to gather information. That means that if you step on the scale, that number is information. Nothing more. It’s not an opportunity to shame yourself. It’s an opportunity to make a choice. It’s an even better opportunity to make a small, smart choice that can lead to larger, greater things.
HABITSHabits just are. The less we see them as universally good or bad, the more likely we are to see them based on our personal preferences and goals. We are also more likely to explore decisions and actions to replace those habits. Breaking a habit sets the mind on a path of singular destruction, and connects to that notion of ‘willpower.’ Replacing a habit sets the mind on a path of exploration. The more we identify and explore a habit objectively, the more likely we are to explore steps and practices to replace that habit with one more in line with our personal goals.
WILLPOWER AS A TEMPORARY TOOLInstead of seeing ‘willpower’ as the first resort, use is as the last. Think of it as the emergency brake when you’re parked on a hill, rather than a steering wheel when you’re driving too fast on an oil-slicked road. Willpower can be that final push in a particular experience that helps you make different choice, rather than the umbrella under which you gather all of your hopes and expectations. Let focus on your goals, and consistent choices in the direction of your goals help your larger efforts… let willpower help you manage the smaller (much smaller) ones.

You have everything that you need to succeed, including the curiosity to learn more about what it takes to reach your personal best (hell, you’re reading this. That’s something). Go forth and be your most awesome self, and recognize that the path to success is NOT A STRAIGHT LINE. Be okay with taking two steps back, and use those times as an opportunity to gather more information for present and future choices. Believe that you can, seek and use the tools to support that belief, and take it from there.

You got this.

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