Your Willpower Wanes When Your Beliefs Remain The Same - Grasshopper
What happens when you run your life by an equation that is flawed? You get spotty results. The faulty calculus we've all learned revolves around the word "Willpower."
"Elbow Grease," "Nose to the Grindstone," "Grit and Determination" "Discipline" all have one thing in common. They, by themselves, have an awful rate of success in getting the job done.
There is something missing causing us to fail time and again.
There is nothing flawed about hard work. It's often a necessary ingredient in accomplishing something worthwhile. The reason determination doesn't deliver the goods is because it's fighting against an invisible, more powerful opponent – Patterned Beliefs.
In a blog post from February 2008, I compared this struggle by writing:
"You eventually lose that race because willpower is a middle school sprinter and patterns are world class marathon runners."
When we fail, the rationalizations go something like this: "I didn't try hard enough" or "someone sabotaged my success." Neither is usually the case.
Take dieting as an example. There are people who have dieted off and on their entire adult lives with net zero results. They lose and then they gain, again and again. There is no lack of effort here. There's a lack of recognition of how strong their foundational beliefs are.
We have been conditioned as a society to "eat everything that's on our plate" or "it's a sin to waste food." Those controlling beliefs run behind the scenes, unless we outgrow them, and they thwart all efforts to consume less and move our bodies around more. Yes, we are successful for awhile, but then we return to our patterned ways.
Updating your beliefs begins by examining them. Most people have no idea what their controlling beliefs are. They have never taken the time to wonder who's really driving the car.
This discovery of our potent core beliefs is often enough to begin the process of restructuring them so they work with our willpower instead of against it.
Notice how easy it is to work tirelessly at something when your passion is in high gear. It's helpful to channel that passion into directing our willpower to find our core beliefs. Once discovered, we can then provide an environment where they can easily come unglued and re-form into something that is more useful to us.
1. Recognize that your recurring, problematic behavior is caused by a patterned belief.
2. Accept that the belief was useful at one time.
3. Train yourself to notice the counter-productive behavior when it's happening.
4. Wonder what you can do at that moment to make the predictable outcome different.
5. Take action on the answer you receive.
Reminds me of a fairy tale . . .
I call it "The Little Girl That Couldn't, Until She Could."
There was a young girl whom everyone loved. She had a way about her where everyone in her company felt comfortable, except her. You would never have known about her discomfort because she was giving all her attention to you.
Who knows how she learned this pattern; it just proved to be very useful in social situations. No one had a bad word to say about her, except her. Unbeknown to anyone, because she never complained, she was feeling a gnawing emptiness.
Since she was such a social creature, she adopted the social graces and social habits. One of them was drinking. It served two purposes: Sociability and, years later, numbing the ever present emptiness.
As time passed, the numbing became more frequent and more people began to notice, but not her. When others, in due course, pointed out the behavior, it was either denied or a moment of shame was endured. The behavior continued.
Eventually, there were unannounced efforts of cutting back but they never seemed to last very long. She just couldn't climb that hill. The saddest part of the story is that her bright candle of attention was being damped down by drowning her sorrows.
She was too proud and too private to address her situation in public. The ridicule she imagined was too much to bear. But being a tireless type, she doubled her efforts to clandestinely curb this behavior but only became doubly disappointed.
Her core belief was "she wasn't enough." You could never tell that by other peoples' reaction to her. They thought she was the greatest.
But one day, out of the blue, it became apparent to her that her "not being enough" belief was the cause of her problem. She also came to realize that no matter how much she poured in, she could never fill up the perceived emptiness. There must be another way.
She now recognized that her social pattern, that became problematic, was at one time very useful. It made her part of the party, something she desperately wanted, because there was no celebration going on in the empty hall inside of her.
Then she began to notice her debilitating behavior while it was happening rather than after the fact. The more often she noticed, the less she consumed. She started noticing more and more.
All of a sudden, she began to wonder what she could do differently, and almost like magic there was a shift.
This shift allowed her to begin filling up on what had been there all along - the spirit she was willing to show others, but hide from herself. She was always full of this spirit but her patterned beliefs had convinced her that she wasn't entitled to any of it, so she found her spirits elsewhere.
All fairy tales have a happy ending and this one is no exception. Does it happen this way in real life? You are the only one who can insure that it does.
The shift won't begin until you believe that you are more than your patterns, and give that spiritual part of you permission to coordinate with your willpower to get you to the top of the hill.
All the best,
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