Why do I have to use my willpower?

13 Feb 2024

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Willpower - control exerted to do something or restrain impulses.

There is quite a list of items that I want to change in my life, typical ones are

Start - diet, exercise, finish the courses and books (quite a lot)
Stop - cigarettes, alcohol

The plan of action is simple. Make the decision to change and stick to it. If there is an impulse against your decision, use your willpower to stick to the decision.

Is it really that simple?

In the past, One day, I decided to stop smoking and drinking and was a te-totaller for 5 years. One day, I decided to become a raw vegan and ate only an uncooked raw plant-based diet for 5 months. One day, I decided to become a runner and ran multiple half-marathons barefoot for 2 years. One day, I decided to eat meat meat-only diet with intermittent fasting, and did that for 2 years… The list goes on…

But, there are a couple of problems… Yeah, of course, otherwise I would not be writing this post.

Willpower - The amount of available willpower I have reduces as I age. When I was young, right out of college with no responsibilities, I could move mountains. After marriage, kids, managing the family, and working at a startup in Silicon Valley, every responsibility takes a portion of my willpower. Forget moving mountains, I find it hard to move my ass from the couch.

Habits - All self-help gurus say this, “Do something continuously for X day and it will become your habit. You will start doing it naturally”. X could be 48 days to a year. So, by this definition, I should be a te-totaller, eating a perfect diet, having a perfect body, running, and exercising regularly. But that’s not the case. What’s missing from this definition is - the circumstances.

For example, when I started running, I figured out when to run, where to run, etc in Bangalore. When I wake up, there is nothing to think about, there is a defined schedule. It was cool for a couple of years. Then I moved to the UK, the place was freaking cold and I could not run barefoot. Then I moved to the US, there is not a good place to run near my house. The habit slowly died off. I see the same pattern in all other activities where I have to use my willpower. When the circumstances change, you have to use more willpower. So,

I contemplate - why do I have to use my willpower?

Imagine you are alone in the deep blue ocean. Multiple small stones are tied to your legs. You swim continuously to stay afloat. The moment you stop swimming, you’ll drown.

The act of swimming is the willpower.

The stone tied to your legs could be your past traumas, beliefs, or something that I am not aware of.

Option 1 - Convince yourself, “Life is a struggle, man”. Swim continuously till you die.

Option 2 - While swimming, try to untie yourself from the stones one by one, so that you can float around naturally, and effortlessly to a possible island (paradise)

I have tried Option 1, but that’s not a long-term solution. That’s tiring as I age.

I am trying Option 2, through life coaching, meditation, and a lot of questioning around my reality. I am hoping for an internal realization, to be able to exactly pinpoint this belief is what caused me to do this activity or that trauma is what’s preventing me from doing that activity. Once I bring that trauma or belief to my awareness, clearing it is easy. I don’t know if this is actually possible. You wouldn’t know if you didn’t even try. Would you?

The objective here is to NOT have to use willpower. To get to that point, I have to use MORE willpower to stay afloat and try to untie the stones. A paradox of life.

I’ll try to keep posting my journey here. That’s another thing that needs my willpower to sit down and write. Hopefully, I’ll write effortlessly in the future.

How is your swimming going on? How many stones have you untied already? Do you need help to understand yourself better?

Reach out to me. Let’s evolve together !!!

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