motivation

The Low Down on Willpower: Why It’s Often Not Enough and How to Compensate

BEAT THE DIETER S DILEMMA WHAT TO DO WHEN WILLPOWER FAILS TEXT WORD CLOUD CONCEPT by aihumnoi on Shutterstock

Here’s what we know about it: It’s limited, but with the right motivation and the right conditions, it can be THE thing that helps you create the change you want in your life.

But what if… you didn’t get enough sleep one day? What if something stressful happens in your life? (That’s inevitable.) What if your blood sugar is low one day?

The right conditions for willpower can be very tricky to control all the time.

Gretchen Rubin, aficionado of good habits and author of several great books on forming habits, has pointed out that forming one good habit tends to eventually create a ripple effect of other good habits. One of the reasons is because willpower is like a muscle, and if you exercise it regularly, it gets stronger over time. Another reason is because our brains release dopamine when things feel good. When change feels good, we crave more of it.

However, using willpower can consume so much mental energy that we become less effective at work, in our workouts, or at solving problems. Have you ever noticed when starting a new diet that you feel more exhausted or less competent? As I already stated, you can gradually build up a larger and larger reserve of willpower, but you have to overcome those conditions on a very regular basis.

Another great point by Gretchen Rubin is that forming a new habit is so consuming because you have to constantly consciously make the decision to NOT engage in the bad habit and TO engage in the good habit until the new habit becomes automatic and you no longer have to even think about it.

My biggest frustrations as a coach were when my clients simply would not do what I was advising them to do. In my early years, this took a toll on my relationship with them, as I would grow very frustrated. By digging deep into the everyday individual challenges of engaging in a new activity with integrity from my own perspective and getting some coaching in emotional intelligence, I developed a greater sense of empathy and compassion. As much as my clients appreciated my patience, compassion, and validation of their feelings, it kept them comfortable in their challenges instead of moving them past them.

In my quest to be the most effective force for personal transformation I can be, I was left with a couple of nagging questions:

  • If our conscious efforts can so easily be sabotaged and have such a cost, what can we do to get our subconscious to be on board quicker so that new habits become automatic?
  • If being tough and no-nonsense doesn’t inspire change in my clients, and being too compassionate doesn’t inspire my clients to change, and I know that they want change, what is the right balance to use and the right tools to use that will help them love themselves through the change and create a safe space for them to transform?

As a leader, have you ever asked yourself these questions? The drive of a leader is to oversee the development and transformation of others into leaders. I have to imagine that all leaders have discovered the same strengths and shortcomings of tough love and compassion. Finding the balance takes trial and error and experience. Even with the wisdom of experience, we have to be able to apply that wisdom when conditions, like lack of sleep, low blood sugar, stress, are present.

For the answers, I turned to science: neuroscience and psychology. What they have discovered in the past 10 years negates much of what we knew prior and a lot of what I learned in college, but some fundamentals remain. Planting roots for good habits is still very much based on the cognitive learning methods of positive and negative conditioning, but we are finding that negative conditioning has some detrimental side effects that contribute to mental health declines, even though it appears to be more effective in the short-term. This is why positive psychology branched out as a practice in 1998. Public perception of this practice has held it back, as people believe that positive psychology is merely about “thinking positive,” which many struggles to do with much regularity. Much the same way, the media/Hollywood and a few mal-intended practitioners of NLP (like hypnosis, but using regular conversation to induce trance) have given hypnosis a very bad reputation.

Take the highly-nominated Academy Award film Get Out. Ugh. It’s a shame that people will not seek out a solution with such potential to change their lives for the better because they believe this portrayal of hypnosis as some malevolent form of mind control. I have already had people claim that hypnosis is “too invasive.” If you watched this film, I couldn’t blame you for getting that impression, but you must realize that this was a movie created by the imagination of Jordan Peele. You might also get the impression from watching this film that white people are wackos, or that Peel thinks so. You might not know that Peele is half white himself.

The truth is that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis, it’s a way to get you into rapport with your subconscious mind, and if I were to give you suggestion under trance that was out of alignment with your values and morals, you would come out of trance. The other truth is that I am not using hypnosis to impose my will on you. I was trained to make sure that the ecology and well-being of the client come first, and your words are the most effective words I can use, so before a session, I am capturing how you feel, words you use and what you want most for your life post-session.

I had to clear up my kids’ perception of hypnosis, as they have seen cartoons where characters bark like a dog. I did see a hypnosis show in which fellow college classmates did some crazy things, but those were the same people who would be seen doing crazy things without the influence of hypnosis, and perhaps under the influence of something else that would lower inhibitions. I noticed that the hypnotist sent some people back to their seats. These were the people who would not have wanted to do something crazy.

Psychology was my career of choice as a high school Junior. But someone had said to me that people become psychologists because they’re crazy themselves. This turned me off to that career path. I don’t regret my communications concentration – it had a lot of cross-over and I certainly use it heavily as a coach. However, I know enough now to feel certain about the contribution that I can make with hypnosis, and I’m not going to let the perceptions of a practice discourage me from promoting it and using it.

You may decide that it’s still too mysterious, or that you want to build up your own willpower muscle. I believe that it’s an admirable endeavor, especially if you can afford the time it takes to do that.

If, however, you can’t afford to take a lot of time, or the pace at which you need change has to keep up with the pace of business, technology, life, etc. consider hypnosis as a safe, natural alternative to a fallible, limited reserve of willpower.

 

Schedule your individual session here: https://calendly.com/epiccareering

For corporate change initiatives, including leadership transformations, e-mail Karen@epiccareering.com to schedule a consultation.

Ben Harper – The Will to Live

The Will to Live (1997)

Why the Eagles’ Story is Everyone’s Story

Philadelphia-Eagles (Reebaok Bag) by G Talan on Flickr

Philadelphia is a cynical city. Years of disappointment in our sports teams, being stuck in between the global behemoth of New York City and the country’s capital like the neglected middle child, and, well, our reputation for demonstrating anything but brotherly love has brooded a victim mentality.

It’s tough to be an athlete in our city. When our athletes fail to perform, we are the first to criticize. This goes for managers and owners, too. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, and our sleeves have said, “You disappointed us, but we’re used to it.” It’s still love, it just looks a lot different than what you think love looks like. It’s tough love. It’s the love you endure in spite of being heartbroken over and over again.

That’s how it had been, anyway.

This year, right from the beginning of the season, a new attitude was born. A new outlook started to take shape. It’s something that you can see with your eyes when you watch the season unfold, but it becomes more and more real as you FEEL it happening. It didn’t look like struggling and striving, though you could see they were working hard. It looked like joy, camaraderie, and faith, and it was contagious.

I’ve had this theory since first studying quantum mechanics and neuroscience in 2008 – Philly teams have lost so much because of US – the fans – and our expectations, our shame, and disappointment. On the metaphysical side, we are attracting what we put our focus on, and when we focus on their poor performance and everything they did wrong, we manifest more of that. Then there’s the neuroscience part of it:

I know I can’t take credit for this AT ALL, but the year I formulated this theory was the year the Phillies won the World Series. I was in the city that night, on Broad Street, with my dad. It was a night I’ll never forget. The magic lasted for a while, but there was still an underlying, “Bet they can’t do that again” belief that all the magic and the fairy dust settled back into the dirt. Even though I thought I had stumbled on something significant that should have inspired me to keep the faith, I couldn’t shake the doubts.

This Eagles team, though. This coach, these players. There was even something different about Jeffrey Lurie. It was their surrender and their knowing that their destiny was bigger than any one of them individually. It was their practiced celebrations that let YOU know that THEY knew there were going to be some big moments to celebrate. It was their locker room energy. It was their totally calm interviews, even as another player made the DL. It was their “next man up” mentality. It was their lack of ego. It was their belief in and support of each other. They made me believe, and even though the city is full of cynics, and some remained so, I never saw so much hope and faith among my fellow Phans.

I was at a party with my guy friends from high school when the Eagles played the Falcons in the division playoffs. My friend, Chris (aka Bird, who coincidentally married a girl named Birdie,) was definitely in his cynical mindset by the 3rd quarter with the Falcons leading by one, and an “easy pass” was not completed by Ajayi.

“I can’t help it. Year after year they choke. Why should I believe this will be any different. I’ll just wind up disappointed again. They’ll blow it.”

I shared my theory him, and I said, “Maybe the recipe for winning is faith first.” He considered it for a minute, but you can’t reverse a lifetime of belief in a moment.

A few more moments later he said, “I changed my mind. I decided to believe. I have faith.”

“Do you mean it?” I asked surprised.

“Yeah. I mean it.”

I knew he was trying to see if it would pay off, like an experiment. I sent up a little prayer, got myself in gratitude that it was already granted, and asked the angels to make this an affirming revelation for Chris, who had his own tough times and needed to feel like redemption was not just possible, but likely when you have faith first.

I felt it in my bones, and my smile said, “They already won.” After a field goal, a sack (by us,) and then a nice redeeming run by Ajayi, it was clear the momentum was in our favor. Our next drive downfield was little gain by little gain toward a field goal. Then a critical call went in our favor (not something we have come to expect.)

Then came that moment that Eagles fans anticipate – “Here it is. This is where they always blow it.”

We had a 5-point lead in the 4th quarter, but the Falcons had gotten all the way to the 2-yard line. “Chris, do you still have faith?”

“Yep. I still have faith.”

We didn’t choke. Atlanta did! Our defense was on, and their offense was off.

Before the NFC Championship game I texted Chris. “Remember the winning recipe: Faith first!”

As opposed to 2008 where our champions were mostly veterans, we managed to win with back ups. It was a win generated by something bigger than any individual player, and I believe it is totally repeatable. We’re no longer victims of a curse, or injuries, or bad calls, or bad karma.

It’s not as if our players were perfect in the Super Bowl. They were definitely not! AND the fact that they were not perfect was perfect, because even after they failed to complete a pass, or put pressure on Brady, or get the critical 2-point conversions, they came through when it really mattered – the turnover, the sack, the field goal that got our lead back, that final end zone defense.

They didn’t let their mistakes dictate their destiny. Instead of playing the victim, they embraced the underdog role and didn’t let anyone else decide what they deserved as their destiny. Super Bowl LII was a true Rocky story – THIS is who Philadelphia is, but it’s who anyone can be.

That’s why this is everyone’s story.

 

Say what you want; we’ll show you who we really are – CHAMPIONS, baby!

The Philadelphia Orchestra – Fly Eagles Fly!

Uploaded by The Philadelphia Orchestra on 2017-12-11.