Willpower Killers
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Willpower Killers

Willpower is something that comes naturally to all of us, but as we grow up we acquire attitudes and beliefs that sabotage our willpower.

These attitudes and beliefs fall into three broad categories; (1) self-doubt, (2) discomfort-dodging, and (3) resentment. Let's take a close look at each of these three willpower killers

SELF-DOUBT destroys your willpower. Here's how:

  1. You believe that people who can't lose weight are less worthy than people who can lose it.
  2. To qualify as a worthy person you tell yourself that you must lose weight.
  3. You dwell on the prospect of not being able to lose weight and self-doubt sets in. You worry that if you can't or don't lose weight that your 'unworthiness' will be on display for all the world to see.
  4. Rather than have your 'unworthiness' on display, you elect not to try and lose weight. Instead, you tell yourself that you could lose weight, and that you will lose it, but not at this point in time.
  5. By not trying to lose weight, you haven't failed; you've merely postponed the time when you will start (or more likely re-start) your weight loss program. You can tell yourself that because you haven't failed to lose weight, you can still qualify as a 'worthy' person.
  6. You now have the paradoxical situation where your loss of willpower simultaneously protects and attacks your self-esteem; and your desire for self-esteem simultaneously drives and sabotages your willpower. Your loss of willpower attacks your self-esteem because of belief (1) above, and at the same time it protects your self-esteem by helping you to avoid failure. Meanwhile your desire for self-esteem tells you to lose weight (see belief 2 above), and at the same time tells you not to try because you might fail and have your 'unworthiness' revealed.
  7. Your self-doubt, which comes from a combination of your fear of failure and your fear of having your unworthiness revealed to the world, eventually kills off your willpower, so that your weight loss program gets shelved. Again!

DISCOMFORT-DODGING leads to loss of willpower. Here's how it works:

  1. Like everyone else in the world, you want things to come easily and naturally to you, without too much effort on your part. For example, you would like to lose weight, but without too much effort. There's nothing wrong with that. After all, who in their right mind would want life to be a struggle?
  2. But then you escalate your desire for an easy life into a need for it. You tell yourself that you need a quick and painless way to lose weight, one that you can be comfortable with. You tell yourself that you can't stand difficult situations such as having to deprive yourself of tasty-but-fattening foods.
  3. When you can't find a quick and painless way to lose weight, or when you are confronted with the opportunity to eat tasty-but-fattening foods, you tell yourself that depriving yourself has become too uncomfortable to bear. You believe that weight control is far too hard, and that you can't stand having to do things that are this hard.
  4. Boredom, stress and loneliness, as well as deprivation, are all uncomfortable situations. One way of avoiding the discomfort of these situations is to eat. In order to satisfy your 'need' for comfort, and to avoid the discomfort that you 'can't stand', you eat whatever you feel like.
  5. Your belief that you 'need' the comfort of an easy life and your willingness to do anything to avoid discomfort kills off your willpower. Once again, your weight loss program gets shelved. Until you rid yourself of the belief that you must avoid discomfort, you will easily fall into the trap of using eating as a discomfort-dodging measure.

RESENTMENT leads to loss of willpower. Here's how it works:

  1. You notice that some people can eat anything they like without putting on weight, whereas you "only have to look at food" and you put on weight.
  2. You tell yourself that it's not fair that this situation exists; and you're right, it isn't fair.
  3. But then you tell yourself that the world should be a fair place and that unfair situations like this shouldn't exist. In effect, you have taken a sound guiding principle and turned it into a law of the universe. You have escalated your desire to end unfair situations into a demand that unfair situations cease to exist.
  4. Despite your demand that unfair situations cease to exist, you notice that other people are still eating anything they like and not putting on weight, and that you're still putting on weight. You think to yourself, "How dare this happen?" and your resentment builds.
  5. Your resentment turns to defiance. You decide that as the world is such an unfair place, you're not going to put up with its unfairness. You think to yourself, "Why should I suffer? I'm not putting up with this."
  6. To show your defiance, you eat whatever you feel like. And your weight loss program falls by the wayside once again.

The good news is that you are not alone. Most people harbour these willpower killers within their belief system. There's more good news: you can learn to overcome these killers.

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