It’s been said that if you fall down seven times, you should get back up eight. The meaning in this is that bona fide growth stems from How you handle a misstep, rather than just overcoming it. Willpower is the key cognitive process for exerting the control necessary to keep going and refrain from the impulse to give in. But sometimes, it’s hard to remember that willpower is much more than resisting. It’s often about embracing.
The trouble with resisting is that we all have a finite amount of mental energy available for exercising self-control. Some of us have less, some have more. But we all eventually run out of willpower steam. That’s why the more difficult choices you’re faced with during the day, the harder it becomes for your brain to process intensely and the more you start to look for shortcuts.
According to Dr. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, willpower’s actually comprised of three powers: “I Will Power,” “I Won’t Power,” and “I Want Power.” In Epipheo’s animated How To Say “No!” to Almost Anything video short, Dr. McGonigal explains these three constructs.
It’s important to note that relying solely on resistance, or “I won’t power”, depletes your physical and mental energy. This is what complicates the self-control process and makes it feel so hard to change. However, the ability to reframe resistance into an act of willful duty towards what you will do, or want to do, can be the key to saving precious mental energy and embracing productive choices.
While mustering up the willpower to take responsibility for your goals, inhibitions, and everyday missteps does take energy, it’s also a cognitive maturity that blends deeply into emotional intelligence. The ability to manage one’s emotions is a contributing factor to all kinds of successes. Many studies have discovered that strong emotional intelligence is the largest contributing factor to personal and professional success. Take a moment today to assess something you’ve been exercising willpower on to resist. Then, consider how you might reframe your mindset to embrace this new pattern of “I Will” and “I Want” thinking.
“Emotional self-control, delaying gratification and stifling impulsiveness underlies accomplishment of every sort.”
– Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.
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