Archive for February, 2012

Will power is best served cold

February 9th, 2012 Kevin No comments

What’s this post about?

Will power.

What about it?

It’s best served cold.


It turns out in the moment, our ability to control our choices gets balanced by our nonconscious ways of considering how, when, and why to do things. We revert to our instincts and preferences far more than we make new choices in the moment.

Have an example?

Yes. Several come to mind, like eating the third donut, ordering the sixth beer, or telling someone the same thing for the eighth time. These are all symptoms of the underlying problem.

What’s the underlying problem?

The problem is the way will power works. Even if we decide to not eat the donut or not have the beer, that part of us that really enjoys those things can get its way by besting our conscious intentions. That part of us has more friends in our brains, is directly connected to more influential areas up there, and speaks the underlying languages of our brains (chemical, electric, electromagnetic) far better than we do.

Are you saying will power is not all it is cracked up to be?

Exactly, for many of us. Some people have amazing will power. Often, you find them as stalwarts in our companies, churches, and social networks. They mean what they say, and do what they mean. Nice folks.

And for the rest of us– is there any hope that we can enjoy will power?

Sure there is. As this blog post suggests, we can serve our will power cold. In other words, we can work on the important things when they are not happening yet so we are ready for them when they do happen.

Have any specific suggestions?

Yes. Imagine a whole sequence that is likely to happen in the future. In your imagination, change things. For example, as you think of the donut, imagine delaying reaching for it for 10 seconds. Imagine how much better your waist will be without it. Imagine that you are the queen or king of not eating donuts, give yourself a sash and ribbon in your imagination (no worries there, no one but you will be watching!).

You think I can serve will power cold with imagination, anything else?

Sure. Spend more time using your will power in the off moments to create new habits. Also, use your will power to tie emotion and states of mind to specific things that will happen in the future. Keep check lists of how you prefer to do things. Consider distractions that get your nonconscious brain off of its targets. Use self talk that helps see all sides and points of the proposed actions. “Talk” with your brain in language it understands, sensory language, language of intent, and language that expresses the energy of belief and hope more than talking in English about it.

That is a good start, thank you.

You are welcome. Good luck.

Kevin Leahy

Knowledge Advocate, LLC

Austin, Texas

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