What does willpower mean to you?
Eschewing food we know is bad for us, sticking to a fitness routine, or even starting one?! With clients I try not to use the word as it automatically implies BATTLE and hey, who needs a fight? Better to look at ‘mindfulness’ /what’s going on in our heads! But as it’s a term used so often, we’ll have a look at it! It’s examining why we go against good choices (self-sabotage) that’s of most interest to us here.
Firstly: research has shown that ‘willpower’ is like a muscle. It’ll tire quickly with too much use, but long term get stronger. So if you’re going: low fat, low alcohol, no sugar, and trying to exercise 5 times a week – you’re going to exhaust your willpower resources. This backs up what I’ve said here before about baby steps. Take out one at a time and master this first. Long term you’ll get better and better at it. THEN add another. Another technique (which is brilliant for cravings), is to breath REAL SLOW! Right down to 4-6 breaths a minute! Doing this at the crucial, decision making time will take you from stressed out, to one with self-control. So effective. Note: Sleep deprived people have reduced levels of leptin (the chemical that makes you feel full) and increased levels of ghrelin (the hunger-stimulating hormone). Even a short nap will reinforce focus. Also: Pay attention to when you’re strong/ weak during the day in terms of willpower. Waking up with loads of resolve yet finding it diminishing as you go through your day? Take out temptations later in the day. Remind yourself what you’re trying to achieve and the consequent payoffs, the ripple effects your success will yield. Lastly, do you promise yourself you’ll ‘start tomorrow’, so you can be naughty today? Or that you’ll make up for what you’ve done today by being extra good tomorrow (and then STILL don’t start, or continue to misbehave?!). Me too! Ask: ‘do I want to live with the negative results of ALWAYS putting this off?! See if you can change a bad habit for a slightly less harmful one (to start). Tea for coffee for example, then take it from there. Can you find a way to distract yourself – ‘green exercise’ is a great start – just walking outside? Change your mind-set: Always late? Tell yourself you’ll be the one known to be always early from now on?! I have lots more detail on this subject! Email me, Cat on firstname.lastname@example.org for my bigger article on this!