Is Willpower Force?
Most people think so. This “force-ful” type of willpower–forcing ourselves to “eat right,” “sleep right” and “be right” is draining and uncomfortable. It can show outward signs of successful change for a period of time, but not without struggle and not long-term.
We can only force ourselves to be something we aren’t for so long. Then, that part of ourselves that disagrees with the “healthy way,” comes out screaming, “GIMME twelve donuts, an all-nighter and something I know “isn’t right! Whatever it takes to make this need shut up!!”
Willpower by force is not only ineffective in the long run, but also damaging to our confidence. When we fail at forcing ourselves, we may believe that we will never succeed.
And we are right. We cannot truly succeed by force. We are not strong enough to force ourselves to overcome willpower issues without crippling our own truth. The truth is, that part of us needs that addiction.
But there is another, kinder way out.
Instead of force: repressing that part of us that “doesn’t want to be healthy,” denying it, squashing it or trying to force it to not be, we can do this …
Be willing to care and learn about that part of us that needs the addiction.
Addiction serves a deeper purpose that is of the utmost importance. That purpose is buried in our repressed feelings and/or thoughts–most often in our feelings.
When we learn the deepest, “darkest” reason for why we reach for that addiction, we find that it isn’t all that dark. The reasons are often simple, common, human needs like, “I need to feel loved,” I need to be understood,” “I need affection,” “I need to be proud of myself,” etc. Since we did not meet those needs in healthy ways (and the needs must be met) we found subversive ways to meet our needs–through addictions.
Once we know our deepest unmet needs that drive our addictions, we realize that addiction is just one of thousands of ways to meet that need. Now, are we willing to choose a healthy way?
Here’s a way to start …
The next time we feel that feeling–the feeling before the binge, ask, “what do I REALLY need right now?” If the answer is 12 donuts, dig deeper. Find the real answer–it’s there. What do you really need?
Then ask, “What healthy way can I fulfill this need RIGHT NOW?” And then do that thing, immediately.
Remember to give thanks for real, honest answers. With each new truth, we are closer to choosing healthy ways to meet our needs.
By being willing to care and learn about our whole self, we can overcome our willpower issues. No force necessary.