Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Nature of Willpower

It's been a while since I posted... but I feel suddenly inspired.  I wan't sure where the best place to write this might be.  Initially I wanted to respond to a post on FB, which I'll admit I kinda scanned quickly.  It is about "replenishing your self control".

It brings up the nature of Willpower and what one feels they need "self control over." I think that while it's probably good to "replenish" your self control. . it's probably better to just "do what you wish" and "be who you really want to be" and bring your whole self as much in line with your true will as possible. this isn't necessarily easy...but why focus on gassing up something that is really more like a defense mechanism instead of just being who you want to be. ---huh. . I almost never do that. . but then I don't feel like my "self control" is generally a really big issue. This reminds me of another debate I've had with myself about the nature of "willpower". It comes up in role playing games a lot and I often wonder what "spending willpower" and "getting it back" actually represents. In the games you often "spend willpower" to do something difficult you really want to do. However, I'd suggest you really only spend willpower to do something you don't really want to do but feel you should or "have to" do. I suggest therefore that the problem really is in conflicting desires. If you are more .. in line line, internally consistent, of "one will" instead of "many" you do not get fatigued. It's easy to avoid sweet foods if you *actually want* to loose weight, and you like the alternative foods etc. If you actually want to do something more than you don't want to do it by a significant amount, then you don't have to "spend willpower". The trick is to find what can cause you to put more of your.. will/self desires behind the motivation to do something you think you "should" do. also. . there is no should. there is only what you want to do and what is possible to do. It's all about what you want more and to reduce the conflicting wants. BTW wants also include fears (desire for safety means you feel insecure) so by reducing your insecurities and fears you also help bring yourself in line (I feel like there is a better way to say that..) You don't have to worry about your self control being exhausted, if you already just want to do the thing you want to have self control over.

What do you think? I've often thought about these ideas and also how they relate to motivation. Along similar lines I tend to think that there is a formula to that is related to what I said above to help you do something you think you "should" do. I suppose there are more factors, really more desires than just these two sides but in the past I've thought of it like this. If desire to do something is > the difficulty of doing it, one will do it. if it is equal then one will struggle and if it is < the difficulty then one will not do it no matter how much they whine and complain about it. I think that difficulty in this equation (especially taking into account my above statements) also includes insecurities and any other mental difficulty along with any physical difficulty. I would also suggest that *most* of the time the issue is more of a mental difficulty than actual physical one. People usually surprise themselves by what they can do, and often say they "can't" or "it's too hard" etc. when they are just insecure (I say just but that doesn't mean it's easy to overcome, it' just means they are blaming the wrong thing) or have some other mental block about it. Often once one has done the thing once they automatically reduce (or move around) their insecurities and other mental blocks to doing something and the "difficulty" level goes way down. The activity didn't *actually* get easier, but we realized it wasn't as hard as we thought it was. AT that point it takes less "will expenditure" to do the activity. I would argue that more of our will is behind the activity, and thus we don't have to "spend it".. if that makes sense. It's already there.

So, what do you think? am I missing something? Do these theories make sense?