It is widely believed that people need willpower to manage or restrain impulses or to resist temptations. This is only true if they have not made the correct association with the desire for success and motivation. Temptation is only a problem when the emotional attachment to desire outweighs the emotional attachment to the pay-off.
It is definitely a good idea to cultivate the ‘willpower’ muscle in many areas of life so that we are familiar with associated feelings such as determination, achievement, feeling purposeful or simply viewing the self as having strength of character.
When dealing with dysfunctional patterns of addiction, compulsion or even of emotional responses such as anger, it is far more potent and successful to be tuned into motive and emotional payoff. If this is the strongest force, there is no need for willpower, because any fleeting thought of temptation will be overwhelmed by the desire for the reward of success.
Here I want to make a very important distinction between thoughts and feelings. It is not enough for the certainty about feeling good to be just a thought. Every addict knows in his or her head that they will feel better when they are free – but that is just the thought. If the feelings of the heart and gut are in conflict with the thought, the addict will be in a state of battle. In other words, that is when the person feels as though they need willpower. The power of the will is required so that they can do battle with the conflict within themselves!
Here’s what I mean. Suppose you decide you want to stop smoking cigarettes. If the dominant emotional force in you is the certainty that you will feel great when you quit smoking and that you will feel bad if you do not, then you have nothing to resist. If your neuro-networks have made the positive emotional connection, there will be no temptation or impulse because the emotion is correctly programmed. However, if the dominant emotional force associated with not smoking is a sense of loss or deprivation, or if it is a fear that it will be difficult or uncomfortable, it is much harder to quit.
The reason it feels harder is that human beings are genetically programmed to take actions that will reduce unpleasant feelings. The only action that your mind/body will accept will be the one that removes the fear, loss or deprivation. So, if you perceive an uncomfortable craving, your body/mind will search its memory banks for the solution. It will find the action of ‘lighting up a cigarette’ or ‘having a drink’, and until you do, your brain will keep sending you an action signal and you will be doing battle with it. The only thing between you and the cigarette is willpower. You are not battling the cigarettes, you are battling yourself.
The same thing applies to any addiction, whether it is alcohol, eating – or even a behaviour or emotional response that you have become habituated to.
This is why hypnosis and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT – tapping) can be so effective.* A really good therapist will understand the need to help you to make very strong emotional connections with success and then use their skill to ensure that the positive emotional response is dominant. When this is the case, there is no conflict, no battle – just a keen sense of looking forward to freedom.
If you would like to know more about how hypnosis or EFT can help you, please call or email.
*Disclaimer: Please be aware that the results of any treatment will vary from person to person and no specific guarantees are being made. Mary Condell always endeavours to give her best work to each client with a commitment to the best possible outcome. Please call to discuss any queries or concerns you may have.