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I do plenty of things because I know they are good for me, or because they are important for my career. I occasionally choose the workout when I don’t feel like it, finish the project for work that doesn’t sound exciting to me, and sometimes I choose kale over less healthy food when the unhealthy stuff sounds better in the moment. And even though I occasionally make choices based more upon what’s good for me than what I wish for the present moment, those choices are still self sourced. They come from a place deep within me that knows what I really want, and a knowing of myself that supports me in staying true to myself, even if a current energy, emotion or situation is blocking my truer desire. But they never, ever come from willpower. I don’t entirely hate willpower. It gets people to where they want to be, and it can support us in picking ourselves up when we fall. But the thing is, willpower never ever gets us all the way. And it certainly doesn’t keep us from falling again once we pick ourselves back up. So here are a few reasons why it’s simply not the best habit:
1. Forcing things never works anyway.
It’s fair to say that pretty much everything I’ve ever done because I had to, as opposed to wanted to, was subpar. Ask any good writer, artist, creator of any kind. Yes, it can be important to work through blocks that come up, but forcing yourself out of the block isn’t truly working through it. What’s produced by force usually comes from a place within you that isn’t the true you. What’s produced out of “have to’s” risks not getting you the results with what you wanted from them anyway. It’s when I’m feeling the most free that the creative inspiration usually comes. It’s when I’m most in the “mood” to do something, that it gets done well or better than I could have imagined. Inspired action takes what we can manage, and turns it into what we excel at.
2. Willpower doesn’t bring real and lasting change.
Real transformation doesn’t come from forcing things. Force, and the sense of willpower that causes it, instills a false sense of hope in us that’s disappointing in the end. Sure, we can bring ourselves to do things out of willpower. But when done from that space there’s no telling what our behaviors will be the next time the same feeling arises. When we don’t feel like doing something, it’s the feeling part that’s far more important than the doing; there’s something we’re feeling that we need to allow ourselves to feel. By suppressing the feeling that has us not wanting to do something, we’re ignoring the messenger that’s there holding the message, that when opened, will reveal a truth we had been hiding or overlooking. If we dismiss it, we will continue to feel the same crummy feelings when we’re forcing ourselves to do something. But if we can receive the message and process the emotions, it will lead to the true form of transformation that makes things easy in the end. If you’re trying to change something in the long run, it must come from a deep place within; the kind of depth that involves looking at all of the layers of something, not just repainting the surface.
3. There’s something better waiting.
Okay, so by now you’re probably clear that inspired action is the best form of action, but, have you ever thought of the time you’re wasting when you don’t take inspired action? If you’re choosing to do something that’s NOT inspired, chances are that there’s inspiration for something else you would rather be doing that’s being pushed down in the moment. By choosing the thing that’s inspiring you less, the other thing that would be inspiring you more, if the space were open for it, is losing momentum and power. When you finally get to that other thing, the inspiration could be lost, causing it to be half assed, too. So why not do it when you’re inspired and you know it’s going to be good, and trust that the inspiration for the other thing you’re “supposed to do” will come when it’s time?
4. Misery begets the good stuff anyway.
Sure, you may be able to trudge on through a task with willpower, but is trudging ever fun? By forcing ourselves to be in a space of pain when there is joy waiting right there, we’re telling ourselves that joy doesn’t matter; that it’s not worth acknowledging or spending time with. If you woke up every morning to darkness simply because you never bothered to open the shades, you might start to believe that you live in a world of darkness. But if there is light to be let it by the simple option of opening the shades, why wouldn’t you allow more of it into your life? Exercising willpower because you’re “supposed to” can be just like leaving the blinds closed. I, myself, prefer to let the goodness of the world in.
5. That’s not why you’re here.
Without needing to get into an existential conversation about the meaning of life (unless you should so choose), I will simply point out that we’re in this world to have an experience of it, and to experience ourselves within it. Yes, experiencing things means knowing duality – knowing both sides of things so you can choose; knowing darkness, and from there being able to better understand and embrace light. But if we’re just here to have an experience anyway, and the experience you would choose if you felt you had a choice is the more joyful one (not the thing you’re forcing yourself to do out of willpower), then why wouldn’t you choose that? Everything that you make up you will get through willpower will come more easily to you when you move through inspired action instead. So give yourself a little room to experience why you’re here and let that be enough for once.
Where you have been using willpower to escape the better stuff? Where could inspiration replace force in your life? I would love to hear your comments below!