Willpower Lifting – Exercises to Strengthen Your Self Control

Cupcake temptationTemptations surround us, waiting to sneak up, catch us off guard, lure us into their trap and leave us feeling a bit satisfied but more so guilty or disappointed. Why is it that we can have solid goals, a game plan and amazing focus but just a glance at a sweet little cupcake can make us throw our hands up in surrender?   We all have one brain, but two minds. One part of us sees the big picture and long-term happiness while the other wants to feed our immediate gratification. They are both our true self, however a few factors determine whether we live our weaker version or our better version in the decisions we make. This is the daily battle between temptation and willpower. I like to think of willpower as a muscle; it gets weak when you don’t use it, atrophied and useless. So we need to do some willpower-lifting to pump up those muscles and stay strong in our resolve against our daily temptations.   Studies have shown that practicing setting small goals and achieving them helps you conquer bigger things you shouldn’t be able to do later down the road. For example, saying no to a bite of dessert, setting your alarm 30 min earlier for a morning workout, or having a vodka soda (or water) instead of a pina colada can all strengthen your “will power muscle” for bigger things in the future like a week long detox program. But sometimes even those small choices can be difficult, so here are some tried and true will power exercises to get you pumped up.   Willpower-Lifting Exercises:

  • Think of failure- It’s important to imagine how amazing you will feel when you achieve your long-term goal, BUT research shows that thinking about and predicting ways you could fail shines light on your tendencies. This will help you recognize your weaknesses to fight against them in the future.
  • Meditate- 10 minutes a day will help improve sleep and strengthens connections in the brain linked to self-control.
  • Set Your Intention- Every morning remind yourself of your goals and why you want to achieve them. Having your intentions fresh in your mind first thing in the morning helps to strengthen your resolve during the day.
  • Eat Balanced- a lower glycemic and plant-based diet are linked to higher will power. This in itself takes discipline but what it produces is so much more!
  • Move your body- exercisers have stronger will power to eat right, stop procrastinating and pay attention to the important things in life.
  • Sleep- it’s shown that getting less than 6hrs of Zz’s a night affects the area of your brain that helps you remember long-term goals and core values, keeping you from being the better version of yourself.  Don’t make sleepy decisions!!
  • Pray- give up the temptation to God and ask for strength. Some things we just can’t do on our own. (Most things for me)
  • Let go of guilt– Don’t be too hard on yourself. The feeling of guilt actually increases the likelihood of having the same failure again. Let it go and move on. Tell yourself something like, “I know I am feeling guilty right now about my choice but I am human and I’m not going to be perfect all the time, I will be stronger next time because I know I can” These types of statements have been proven to boost future willpower.
  • Mini Intervention– in the middle of a temptation, stop and:  
  1. Notice the craving, feeling, urge.
  2. Accept and attend to the inner experience.
  3. Breathe and give your brain/body a chance to pause.
  4. Expand your attention to what will help you achieve your goal

  Try to add some of these exercises into your daily life and watch your willpower muscles grow. You will find that the better version of yourself will shine through more often, leading you to achieving your goals and the true ultimate satisfaction that is worth so much more than a silly little cupcake!!    Some inspirational images to pin on your Pinterest boards:  Willpower Lifting Willpower is a muscle               I can and I willIt will hurt willpower                     In Health and Happiness, Lauren McBride 

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