Self-control plays a big role in many of our common struggles, from addiction to overeating to underperformance at school or work. Self-control is our ability to manage impulses, emotions, and behaviors to achieve long-term goals. It’s also what allows us to resist unwanted behaviors and urges. Everyone struggles with self-control in some form, but there are steps we can take to set ourselves up for success.
Here are 3 tips to strengthen your willpower:
1. Improve your body-mind connection by limiting negative self-talk.
Strengthening willpower begins with improving the relationship between our conscious minds and our bodies. Our bodies often want to do things that our minds know we shouldn’t do. Our willpower falters when our minds no longer have control over our bodies.
When you treat yourself with love and understanding, the body and mind become in harmony with each other. Think about a struggle you have right now. Maybe it’s overthinking, lack of motivation, or poor eating habits. How do you speak to yourself when you exhibit these behaviors? For most of us, our self-talk is cruel, and we judge ourselves excessively harshly. Why speak to yourself this way if you wouldn’t do it to others?
Check in with yourself - body, mind, and spirit – to make sure they are all working together. This is an internal, personal process. It’s not about how you look, come off, or appear to other people. How we see ourselves is what is important.
2. Pause and think before you react.
The wisdom of Kabbalah teaches that the path to achieving the most amazing blessings in life is by going through a process called “restriction.” Restriction is about delayed gratification. It’s the notion that, “I’d rather wait to have something better later than have a smaller amount of enjoyment right now.” This comes in many forms. It can feel good in the moment to yell at someone that we are angry with, for instance, but on some level, we know that we could have a much more level-headed and constructive conversation with them if we took a few moments to cool off before reacting.
Restriction is about pausing to recognize that there is something valuable to learn, sitting with it, and then deciding if you need to act. It is not about repressing your feelings or avoiding things altogether. Sometimes you need to act or say something, but you have the power to choose when.
Our days are filled with opportunities to practice delayed reactions. The more we grab those opportunities, the easier it becomes. Think about this day. How many times did you react impulsively to something? The more you can be a master of restriction, the more you will find the blessings that are meant to come to you.
3. Practice having an internal dialogue with yourself that supports your soul's desires.
We all have an inner voice that tries to tempt us. “Eat that extra cookie, say that hurtful comment, don’t get up for work today.” This voice is our greatest enemy but also our greatest opportunity. It is through our internal struggle with this voice that we are able to develop our willpower.
When you hear that voice in your head, know that what it is suggesting is poison for your soul. Giving in to that voice prevents you from becoming a master of self-control and restriction. This affects all areas of your life in the long term. Argue with that voice. The more you overcome it, the quieter the voice gets, and the stronger your self-control becomes.
Developing a stronger willpower is possible and doable. It requires us to find harmony within ourselves, resist our reactive nature, and develop a stronger internal dialogue. This is no easy task, but it is amongst one of the most important traits we can develop in order to become successful in all areas of life.