Why Willpower Is Not Enough To Change Your Life

Have you ever tried to break a bad habit or take on a new one using your willpower alone?  If you have; how did it go for you?  I would be willing to bet that you failed more often than not, if you have tried to take any life changing habits with the use of willpower alone.

What is Willpower?

Sorry to be so blunt, but “willpower” is really just an illusion.  When you are trying to make drastic changes in your life with just the use of willpower you are setting yourself to fail.  As a matter of fact, when people are trying to take actions based on their willpower, they are “shooting themselves in the foot twice”.   How is that?

Well, first they are disappointing themselves thinking that they are weak, and second, they are trying to override their subconscious attention with their conscious attention which is really impossible to sustain long term.

This would be like trying to control your breathing consciously, while as we all know,  your subconscious does a much better job.  Imagine if you had to control every breath you take 24/7?  You would stop breathing very quickly, because you wouldn’t be able to keep up with it.  That’s exactly what happens with your willpower.

Willpower versus Subconscious Programming

We do not breathe using our willpower, we breathe subconsciously.  That’s why we breathe when we sleep and even when if we are knocked unconscious.

The same goes with subconscious habits and everything you do that really comes from a subconscious level.  Trying to override it with your conscious is a lost battle.  It’s like if you were consciously trying to control your breathing.  You are trying to control an action or habit “consciously” when such action or habits is mainly controlled subconsciously.

This is why many people who are trying to stop smoking, lose weight, save money, stop procrastinating, and many other things fail.  They are failing because they may have consciously decided to take on a new habit, but unless they are fixing the problem at its root, which is at the subconscious level, they will not succeed.

Let’s say that this week you are telling to yourself, I am going to stop procrastinating and I will take so and so action starting tomorrow.  So, when tomorrow comes around you are all motivated and you start taking actions.  Then, you even manage to keep this up for a week or so, but what happens over time?  You get distracted and you go back to your old habits.  You see, that’s the problem with our conscious, it gets distracted very easily.  As a matter of fact, it’s not IF your conscious will get distracted, it’s more like WHEN.  This is the fundamental reason why willpower is not enough to change your habits and ultimately your life.

Does this Mean that you’re Weak?

Does the fact that you can’t really control your willpower long term make you a weak person?  Most certainly not.  The fact that you can control your willpower only to a limited extent is because willpower is not the RIGHT tool to use in order to make drastic changes or breaking bad habits.

If you are a reader of this blog or any personal development blogs teaching about the subconscious mind you know that the subconscious works like a tape recorder.  Unless you erase that tape with a new recording, you will still be hearing whatever was recorded on it.  This is why conscious efforts CANNOT override subconscious programming.  The blueprint of your subconscious mind will ALWAYS take over because it’s much, much more powerful.

Overriding Willpower by Going Beyond the Critical Factor 

I am sure that you’ve got the point so far and understood that in order to be more effective with your plans and decisions you need to affect your subconscious rather than your conscious.  Now, why is this easier said than done?  Well, it’s because your subconscious mind is protected by what we call the Critical Factor also known as Gatekeeper.  In order to put new data into your subconscious mind you need to go beyond that Gatekeeper.

The Critical Factor has a purpose, which is to protect you against external information that would not serve you well.  However, since the subconscious is incapable of logical reasoning it will protect you just as well against good things.  On top of this, the subconscious will always take the path of least resistance and it doesn’t like change.  Against this, willpower has no chance.

This said, it doesn’t mean that you can’t change your subconscious blueprint.  You do.  As a matter of fact, there are two ways, to do this. One I like to call the hard way, which is by using your conscious mind with relentless repetitions, and it will take months to years to see results.  The other, the easy way, which is using a medium  that will open the Gatekeeper’s doors wide.  This medium is called self-hypnosis.

Self-Hypnosis versus Willpower

Unlike willpower that can be activated only with the conscious mind, and as a result generate little achievements, self-hypnosis, can be used to connect directly with your subconscious mind.  Self-hypnosis allows you to bypass the Critical Factor (Gatekeeper) and connect directly with the subconscious mind which is the area that you need to reach in order to make any drastic change.

The part of the subconscious that is resistant and not open to change is the Critical Factor.  Self-hypnosis keeps the Critical Factor at bay (so to speak) so, the subconscious mind is easily reached.  It’s like if you wanted to come into a guarded castle but couldn’t because of the guards at the door.  If you could put the guards to sleep, however, you would be able to get in very easily.

Once the gatekeeper is asleep any new idea can be put into the subconscious mind.  The best and easiest way to do this is with self-hypnosis.

So, what’s your experience with willpower? Have you tried methods that can get your there faster? What are they? Have you used self-hypnosis before?  I love self hypnosis! I do a 30 minute session every evening. What about you?  Let us know in the comment area.

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17 Comments

  • Donna MerrillTwitter: donna_tribe says:

    I so enjoy reading your posts Sylviane. I like the way you explained the “gate-keeper” because it gives a good visual value to that “gate” we must cross to reach that subconscious mind. When walking through that gate, anything is possible. No, it is not an easy journey by no means. One has to be willing to change in the first place.
    Self hypnosis is awesome. I enjoy programming my mind all the time to grow. I first started hypnosis to get rid of the nasty neurolinkings in my head. Once that was all cleaned up, I started my journey of enhancing my life through hypnosis. Self hypnosis does work! Keep on writing, you are contributing such a powerful message to us all.
    I call this the root of success. When we can overcome boundries within ourselves and reach for the moon!
    Thank you,
    Donna
    Donna Merrill invites you to read..What To Do When You Experience “Overwhelm”?My Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio ~ Life Coach says:

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks so much for your compliment here:)

      I am very glad to heard that you know quite a bit about self hypnosis. I know and practice it for about a year now and I really love it. Since then, I have been writing posts about the subject and promote some materials that I use myself for those who want to give it a try.

      Thanks for coming by and have a great rest of the week!

  • AdrienneTwitter: adriennesmith40 says:

    I don’t know if I really agree with you on this one Sylviane and I’m only speaking from my own personal experience.

    I use to be overweight, only by about 30 pounds. I was pudgy from an early age and it carried on into my mid 20’s. When I made up my mind to lose weight, nothing could change my mind. It was my determination and willpower that got me through. There was no way you could detour me from my goal and I reached it in a little less than six months.

    I believe if you really want something and you don’t perhaps have some addictive habits attached in some way, then shear willpower alone is the answer. You just have to want it bad enough to not fall back into your old ways. You have to consciously remind yourself what you are setting out to achieve. You have to make new habits.

    Now that’s just been my personal experience with this which is why I would have to disagree with what you’ve shared here. But, I’m not saying I’m entirely right. Just speaking from experience.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne invites you to read..Why Blog Maintenance Is ImportantMy Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio ~ Life Coach says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      I totally understand what you’re saying and I love to write post where not everyone will agree with me once in a while 🙂

      Well, what I would say is that we are both right. You are right when you are saying that pure determination also called willpower can and will make a difference with some people and in some case willpower has helped me as well, but I think that it’s because we were 100% determined.

      I have succeeded in some cases, but in other cases, even though I felt very determined to accomplish something, my willpower was just not enough. I really could feel the blocks inside me, almost like another me pulling me down while another part of me was trying to push me up.

      This happens to a lot of people, and that’s when you know that willpower is not working anymore. That’s why I started to get interest in self-hypnosis when I learned that it could get right to the roots of the problem.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Adrienne, always appreciated.

  • Carol LynnTwitter: carollynnrivera says:

    Willpower hates me! You have no idea how many times I decide I’m just going to do (or not do) something and in about five minutes I already lost. Mostly it has to do with swearing I am NOT going to eat a whole box of cookies 🙂

    I think there is a combination of things – there is willpower definitely, I mean I do agree to Adrienne’s point that if you make up your mind, you can stick to it because you’ve made up your mind. In my case, when I end up eating a box of cookies, it’s because I SAID I wasn’t going to do it but in my mind I didn’t really commit to it.

    I also think part of it is conditioning. Some things become habits, and it’s hard to break a strong habit. I’ll just use the cookie example… sometimes it’s just a comfort thing, and many people eat when they are bored/stressed/anxious and don’t even realize it. Or how many times have you visited family and they always want to feed you with more more more? So you’ve basically been conditioned to do things a certain way and when you try to break out of it, there are strong psychological and sometimes even physical (like addiction) forces working against you.

    Part of making something a habit is conditioning, so like you said, it becomes an automatic response. I don’t have to think about eating carrots instead of cookies, I don’t have to force myself or make a conscious decision to choose one over the other. It becomes part of my lifestyle and everyday behavior.

    The brain is a very powerful thing and sometimes the simple act of believing something is going to change is enough to make it change. Sometimes you have to “trick” your brain by what I’ll call “reprogramming” so you can begin to make new associations and acquire new expectations.

    And while we’re on the subject, how weird is a brain that it can think… about ITSELF! My brain thinking about my brain. Kinda blows your mind 🙂
    Carol Lynn invites you to read..Sabotaging Success Part 3: How Jumping Into Business Without Knowing Where You’re Headed Is A Recipe For Failure (And What To Do About It)My Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio ~ Life Coach says:

      Hi Carol,

      You really made some good points. A lot of what we do is because our brains, as you said, has been “programmed” that’s why at that point it went to the subconscious level. That when willpower has NO power.

      Now, yes, like Adrienne was mentioning, one can use his or her willpower and achieve things, but when it works it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s ONLY due to willpower, but also part of the “makeup” of the person. The make up being “the subconscious”.

      Let me give you an example.

      Since Adrienne used the example of Weight loss. Let’s say you were a little plump when you were little and some mean kids made fun of you. Because of this, subconsciously you truly believed that being plump is bad and you HAD to be skinny. Now, years go by and you decided to lose weight. You go on a diet and you “think” that was solely because of your willpower when you lose the weight. However, it’s really because subconsciously you can’t stand being plump.

      Now, I’m not saying that this is the case of Adrienne or anyone else, but it’s something that does happen and people may call it willpower.

      Yes, the brain is marvelous and can think of itself and even analyze itself. I know it’s crazy!

      Thanks for your feebacks, Carol 🙂

  • Harleena SinghTwitter: harleenas says:

    Interesting topic!

    I would also like to agree with Adrienne here that for me willpower does work in most cases, but yes, there are those tough decisions where the willpower does take a back seat, where I agree with what you say.

    I think most of us would have a little mixture of both things in us, though it depends which has a greater pull within us. For some willpower works wonders, as in my case, even though I know I have kids and a family to see to, yet it’s my willpower and determination that gets me to write every single day, besides the other tasks I need to do. I guess when we really want something bad, we go all out to get it, no matter what and that’s where willpower comes in.

    And about self-hypnosis, never really tried it or is it something like meditation, something which I do practice.

    Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend. 🙂
    Harleena Singh invites you to read..3 Ways to Create Family Bonding TimeMy Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio ~ Life Coach says:

      Hi Harleena,

      Yes, I do understand that some people have more willpower than others. However, as I was explaining to Carol in the comment above some people who truly believe that it’s their willpower that lead them, it’s really more like their “make-up”. Our make-up being our “subconscious mind”.

      Now, I’m not saying that there is no willpower factor at all, but in a lot of cases it’s more a matter of the “make up” of the person. And I have seen this at work myself too.

      This said, being a writer myself I do know that we’ve got to have a strong will to write no matter what, if we feel like it or if we don’t. If it’s something we enjoy writing or not.

      Thanks for your feedbacks, Harleena. Always appreciated 🙂

  • Neat Feet says:

    I totally wowed your post. There are some cases that willpower is useful but not all can change your life.

    • Sylviane Nuccio ~ Life Coach says:

      Hi there,

      Yes, willpower is important too, but it’s just small in comparison to the subconscious which is really the captain of the crew. The crew being the conscious.

      Thanks for your feedbacks.

  • farouk says:

    hi Sylviane
    can’t agree more!
    trying to use will power alone to break a habit is like trying to push against a wall to exit a room instead for looking for the knob

    • Sylviane Nuccio ~ Life Coach says:

      Hi Farouk,

      Yes, that’s right your visual example is a very good one.

      Thanks for coming by and hope you’re doing well 🙂

  • Nancy Shields says:

    Ciao Sylviane,

    First time here myself and what an interesting topic “Willpower”….. interesting and self hypnosis does create change…

    Thank you!
    Nancy

  • Mica Young says:

    You really got great points and I agree. It’s like forcing yourself to do something you want but you don’t need. But of course, in some cases, willpower can really change lives but not alone. Being determined, motivated and of course with your freewill, it will definitely lead to good changes.

  • Christine says:

    I totally admit it, your title says the truth: we have to learn how to handle that magical power which is called willpower. This is the strongest tool in a humans hand to reach the goals. But to use it efficiently, we have to use it with care. Thanks for sharing this inspirational text!

    • Sylviane Nuccio ~ Life Coach says:

      Hi Christine,

      Humm! Have your read the post, though? If you did, then I’m not sure I understand your comment.

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