Willpower is like a muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it gets!
Lets define willpower for a moment. There are a few words coming to mind thinking of willpower, words like: self control, determination, self-discipline, drive and resolve.
A better, more modern definition, which is in line with this article is:
“The ability to delay gratification through short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals”
The good news about the comparison of willpower to a muscle, is that since a muscle can be trained and grow stronger, willpower is then also something that can grow stronger with the right approach. How great is that!!
The benefits of well-trained willpower
People who maintain a good level of self-control, who know what is good for them and are able to make healthy choices as a result, seem to have better relationships, tend to achieve more career success, and enjoy healthier lives. To me this seems to mean that willpower is more important than talent and intelligence. Without willpower, being talented and intelligent may not mean so much. Your life can still be all over the place and you can be very unhappy with all that talent and intelligence.
Each time we make a decision, like what we are going to eat, if and when we are going to practise yoga, or when we go to bed, we are exercising our willpower muscle, which is basically a part of our brain. You can also overwork your willpower muscle, like any other muscle, it can get exhausted and stop working properly.
Help train your willpower muscle with our 3-week yoga programme: Willpower Workout
Keep your willpower healthy
There are a few basic things we need to take care of, to keep this part of ourselves (our brain) healthy and functioning well.
For our brain and brain cells to function properly we need:
- good nutrition
- plenty of water
- plenty of sleep
- proper breaks to take a few conscious breaths.
I mention these very important things quickly enough, but please take note; these 4 points – healthy food, water, sleep and regular breaks/relaxation – are a big part of the foundation of your being able to exercise willpower in your life. If your relationship with one of these in your life is problematic, exercising your willpower muscle will be significantly more difficult, up to the point of being impossible!
Willpower is like a bank account
If you view your willpower reserves like a bank account. Then you could imagine that each activity would either add to or draw from it. Any activity that makes you feel good and positive and gives you energy, would add to it. Any activity that is hard for you, even though long-term you know it is the right thing to do, draws from it. So doing yoga or relaxation will add to your bank account. Being mindful not to snap at your husband or kids, when you feel you want to, draws from it, because it takes energy not to do it!
So you need enough credit in your account to handle the withdrawal! Remember to start with enough healthy food, proper breaks, hydration and proper sleep.
The moment you feel exercising your willpower becomes really difficult, it might be time to put some extra reserves in the bank account, it might well be empty! So think what you can do for yourself on a daily basis that adds to the account, this way you may be able to handle the things you want to exercise control over.
Accepting what is
It’s also really important to work on accepting life more, not wanting life to be different so much of the time. You can think about the word “welcoming”. When I welcome a mind state or a situation, my mind relaxes and my inner resources are easier to access.
I can act, instead of react!
Acting is a conscious decision to act or even do nothing in a specific situation.
Reacting is an unconscious reaction to a situation, usually not the reaction that you are happy with.
Practising willpower from a place of acceptance
Trying to exercise your willpower from a place of acceptance and positivity will certainly work much better than trying to exercise your willpower from a negative place. Any resolution you make motivated by a negative emotion or mind state, like disappointment, or shame, simply will not work! First put yourself in a positive mindstate, practise some compassion to yourself, find a positive reason you want to do something, add some reserves to your bank account. Then maybe see if you can work with your willpower.
The most important thing of all is this: Don’t fall into the trap of believing you are not good enough as you are. You are good enough, you are exactly perfect the way you are, it’s only the mind that believes differently. There is no need to believe the mind, the mind is partly crazy. All of our minds are partly crazy!