We all have something we’d like to change.
Though when it comes to change, old habits can be hard to break, and it seems that we fail more often than we succeed. This generally happens because we overuse our willpower. Willpower is like a muscle and it gets stronger with regular use, so training it every day, all day long will tire it out. Hence why we fail more often than not.
However, when willpower is applied in the right way, we could all eat right, exercise regularly, drink less alcohol, save more money, stop procrastinating, and achieve all sorts of goals.
See, when your willpower starts running low, you automatically switch into default mode. The path of least resistance, in order to avoid expending any more mental energy.
Research has shown that depleting willpower causes a slowdown in anterior cingulate cortex, the part of your brain that detects a mismatch between what you intended to do and what you’re actually doing.
That’s why that piece of chocolate cake you’d been resisting all day suddenly looks too damn good not to eat by the evening.
Two other areas of the brain that are also important to willpower are the limbic system – the emotional part of the brain associated with your motivations, drives and urges – and the prefrontal cortex – the logical part of the brain associated with the cognitive function of rational thought and reasoning.
So whenever we have an emotional response to something, the prefrontal cortex interprets the response, and produces a response most appropriate to the situation. So the better these two areas work together, the greater the emotional control and stability!
So the more emotionally attached you become, the harder your willpower has to work.
Like all muscles in the body, willpower can be strengthened with the right training. Think about training your willpower muscle like training for a marathon. Your first training run wouldn’t be the full 26 miles. So let me share three ways you can strengthen your willpower.
Use your less dominant hand
Our brains are wired to automatically use our dominant hand. So to strengthen your willpower, try using the other hand. Select a part of your day to use your opposite hand. It doesn’t need to be any more than 30 minutes to an hour in order to get results.
Carry something tempting with you.
Eating healthier is always one thing that we want to do, so try carrying around something tempting with you. Research has shown that resisting something that we really like makes us much more capable of resisting other temptations in our lives as well!
It doesn’t need to be for an entire day, but for long enough that you will be truly tempted. By consistently saying “no”, you will increase your ability to resist other temptations and ignore distractions!
Change what you say
See, we have certain talking habits, like saying “Hey” rather than “Hi”. Again, it takes willpower to consciously go against your instincts. It doesn’t matter how you correct your speech, as long as you change your natural speech habits.
Again, select just a part of the day to practice and choose a word or phrase that you know you will find hard to change.
Try these exercises for just two weeks and see how they improve your willpower!