So you want more control over your life? You’ve got habits and things you would like to change, but just don’t seem able. You’ve tried everything. Meditation, promises and bargaining with yourself, fancy app reminders, but it just isn’t going to happen. I’d like to change your mind (literally).
Within us all is this beautiful superhuman ability called willpower. But willpower only likes to come out and play when self-discipline and positive mindset are around. So to truly activate that beautiful willpower of yours, we need to address a few things.
First, some people are predisposed to using willpower. Which makes those of us who have to work at it, feel like maybe we just don’t have it.
Definition of Willpower:
control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.
You know the type, it seems like these people can truly do anything they want. They start diets and actually keep them! (Only funny to me? okay) But seriously, there are people out there who can quit addictions cold turkey, just because they’re sick of it. Don’t believe me? My mom once told me a story about her father. She said he was an avid chain smoker (we’re talking several packs a DAY), but one day he came home, put the cigarettes on the table and said “I’m done” and he never smoked again.
Wow! Don’t you wish you had that kind of willpower? I sure do. So let’s talk about two secrets for achieving that kind of willpower.
Activate Your Willpower: Work on Your Mindset
If you really want to access that superhuman willpower, you can’t be dogging on yourself all the time! Willpower thrives where there is faith. So you need to get your mind right. Best way to do that? Affirmations aka mantras.
If you’ve read any of my other posts you know I am a huge fan of affirmations. I talk about them in several of my posts, because I truly believe they hold an untouchable power when it comes to rewiring and re-framing our mindsets.
Ways to Use Affirmations:
- Start putting up quotes around your house, using sticky notes
- Change your phone wallpaper to an inspirational quote
- Read articles and blogs that reinforce the behavior and mindset you want to mimic.
- Speak and think positive affirmations to yourself throughout the day
Examples of Positive Affirmations:
- Inside me is the strength to overcome
- I possess the willpower to make the changes in my life I wish to see
- “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13
- I believe in and have confidence in myself
Even if you don’t truly believe the affirmations you are saying in the beginning, keep saying them anyway. Eventually you will begin to believe yourself and you’ll see amazing transformations.
Activate Your Willpower: Work On Your Self-Discipline
If great willpower is accessible, but doesn’t come easily – then how on earth do I get it?
Willpower responds to self-discipline. The two go hand in hand. Where self-discipline is, willpower is also likely to be. So focus on building your self-discipline. If you want to build your Self-Discipline then you need to create the right atmosphere. Get rid of temptations. Make sure you’re filling your mind and surroundings with positivity. If you don’t want to go to bars all the time, stop hanging around your friends that only drink and party. If you want to stop biting your nails, get them painted so the temptation is less. These are small problem examples, but the principles are the same no matter how big the issue.
Alright so you’ve got the right atmosphere for changing your life. Now what?
Now, Practice with the small things. Want to cut out soda for a week? Do it. Did you eat too much at dinner, but that dessert is calling your name? Skip it. Really want to quit smoking? Try smoking one less cigarette than usual.
Everyone starts somewhere. No professional football player has ever just walked straight onto the NFL field. (Catch my drift?) Nurturing your willpower is the same concept. You have to start small and work your way up to the bigger things in life.
This week try finding one thing you are going to be more self disciplined about. Make is an actionable goal. Don’t just say, “I’m going to eat less sweets” that’s too vague and sets you up for failure. Instead try “I’m only going to eat one sweet thing a day”. Small adjustments like this will grow your self-discipline, which will reinforce your willpower affirmations. When you see yourself making better decisions, no matter how small, you will strengthen your willpower, mindset and the belief that you CAN change your life.
How Hard Is This Going To Be?
Learning to go against your emotions and habits, is the best decision you will ever make. But it’s also the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
Too often, people allow themselves to be puppets of their emotions. They sacrifice willpower, self discipline and control for instant gratification. We give ourselves excuses like “Just this one time.” “I’ll be better tomorrow”. Please for the love of God, don’t do that! You need to give yourself a little tough love. Remind yourself that you are in control of your life, your actions. And each and every decision you make contributes to the life you want to live. It isn’t just one little drink, it isn’t just one more date, it’s a step in the wrong direction, no matter your good intentions.
Intentions without action are meaningless.
If the idea of a major life change is too intimidating, don’t focus on your life. It only takes 20 seconds of courage to take a step in the right direction. And after those 20 seconds are up, you just move on to the next 20 seconds. Keep taking it moment by moment until it gets easier. Before you know it, you won’t even recognize the old you.
But even if you stumble, don’t give up. We all struggle from time to time, get weak in the face of certain people or events. But weakness isn’t a sign you don’t have the willpower. No – it’s just your flesh fearing change. It’s your emotions wanting to cuddle right up to the circumstances they’ve become accustomed too. We all love comfort. But comfort is the thief of growth.
When you feel like you aren’t strong enough, remind yourself – you are. Your mind has incredible power. Refer back to your affirmations, try doing another small self-discipline goal. You CAN change that habit, give up that emotional response. I wholeheartedly believe in your ability to change your life.
Struggle is not the absence of strength. It’s the cry of your old life begging you not to leave it.
But what about when I’m feeling weak and I want to break?
Remind yourself of the benefits of staying strong. What’s your goal? Is it to be healthier, physically, mentally emotionally? What will you gain from this life change? What will you gain from that temptation that’s calling your name?
Gratification now is nowhere near as good as a better life later. Sacrifice now for blessings later!
If I told you that you could have $100 today or $1,000 at the end of the week, which would you choose? You’d wait the few extra days for the extra $1,000 obviously!
So why do you cheat yourself out of a bigger return for the momentary bliss of instant gratification?
Treat yourself like the love of your life. Give yourself everything you’ve got and then some! Most importantly, when you do fail (because we all do from time to time) just make sure you get back up and try again. Sometimes we sprain wrists and tear muscles when we work out. But once you heal, what’s the only thing that makes it better? Physical therapy – working out the area of your body that failed you is the only way to give it strength.
What if it Doesn’t Work?
Perhaps your mindset is that you’ve never had strong willpower, therefore you think this is just a bunch of bull that won’t work for you.
I beg to differ. Think back to when you were a kid. When you were trying so hard to hit that baseball off the tee in little league, but you kept missing. You were ready to give up, but then your coach came over and told you “You can do this” and you believed them. With that new found mindset, you hit that ball straight into left field! That’s an example of willpower. And everyone has had one, just dig deep.
Well what do I do when there isn’t anyone around to encourage me?
Encourage yourself. Be your own cheerleader. (You’ll know exactly which chants you like best). Remind yourself, that you can do anything you set your mind too. That your mindset and self-discipline is the key to unlocking your willpower and accessing success.
It’s Going To Take Some Time
Commanding your willpower to appear, having a mindset that activates strength. It takes some work. Willpower is like a muscle. You have to stretch it and work it out. The more you practice, the stronger it gets. And just like working out, you don’t get a 6 pack in a week.
Some people say willpower doesn’t work. I disagree. I say those who think willpower doesn’t work, have never worked out or they gave up too quick. They sit on their metaphorical couch and let their willpower muscles get weak. When someone asks them to go out for a drink, they do. Despite wanting to quit, they fold up faster than a lawn chair with a broken leg. That one decision is a blow to the willpower muscle.
Or perhaps, they did try using willpower, but they weren’t strategic and set themselves up for failure. They made large, vague goals right out the gate and when they failed, they assumed it just wasn’t meant to be.
For me, willpower was everything. In my journey to recover from childhood trauma, to stop the triggers and flashes I used willpower. I learned how to harness that power and rewire my brain. And it took a long time. In fact, it took almost two years of consistent effort, before I got to a place where I didn’t have triggers anymore. I don’t want you to read that and get discouraged. I didn’t have to wait two years to see results, but I did have to work at it for two years to see my end desired results. In the beginning it only took a few months before I saw my triggers cut in half!
I knew that it took work to get the willpower, self-discipline and mindset I wanted. And I was willing to do that work.
I fully believe with every ounce of my body that you can do this. I would bet my money on it. If you work for it that you can change your life. That your willpower is inside just waiting for you to activate it.
Related: How I Healed From Childhood Trauma