Self-Control: Use It or Shift It
Fortune aka Professrr
Jan 26, 2017
I like people but some days they're just hard to deal with. Mix in the stresses of deadlines, meetings, and other demands on your time throughout the day, and you have a recipe for a nervous breakdown or an explosion of emotions. That's when you leave work and head to the fam.
I know for a fact that there are limits to my self-control. Any parent knows that there are limits. Our children try their best to find out what those limits are. Hopefully, you don't get overly upset because you know what they're doing.
And, if you're like me you tell them through gritted teeth: "You're testing my patience. I suggest you stop." (I'd like to say that always works but it doesn't. I think my daughter knows that it's a warning flag and not an alarm.)
This 'working of your nerves' (and you can substitute your pet, your significant other, your roommate or someone else) is usually after you've already had that long day.
You probably don't want to make any more decisions. You just want to do some mindless reading of a good mystery book, watch the boob-tube, or draw a warm bath and soak for an hour. But, you can't do that. You still have things to do around the house.
So, when the end of the night startles you out of the stupor you've been lost in as you stared blankly at the TV, you decide it's a good idea to have that special dessert that you make for yourself when you want a pick-me-up. The words "But, you're on a diet, remember?" are so soft and distant that they don't even sound like your voice. You ignore them. Head to the kitchen and indulge yourself.
That's how it happens... in some way or another. You step out of your plan for a new life and a transformation submitting to the old standard for just this once -- for just a moment. You'll get back on track but right now is about this indulgence.
I read some interesting research yesterday pertaining to the limits of self-control. The authors believe that there's more to the story that we have a limited amount of willpower. The commonly held belief is that this resource is used up through the day by decision-making and exercising restraint. And, there's a lot of evidence supporting this theory.
But, these researchers don't believe that is the case. Their idea is that willpower doesn't have a cap on it making it susceptible to being used up. Their theory is that your motivation simply shifts. They believe that after time spent doing some activity, your desire to do something that you "have-to" do decreases while your desire to do something that you "want-to" do increases.
It makes sense to me when I think about how much I just want to get away at the end of a long day. My willpower may have been weakened but I really want to just relax and do something that makes me feel better (like lay down). However, I'm not sold on the fact that my willpower doesn't get used up.
I know that my brain gets tired from making decisions and restraining myself. I know that a lack of sleep, poor eating, and lazy exercise all affect me. Given enough negligence, I will be irritable, unproductive, and prone to my indulgences. My ability to perform deteriorates the more I let life rule my day.
What that means for you is two-fold:
1. Use both theories to guide and gauge your activities
2. Have a system for strengthening your willpower
More on these two ideas over the next couple of messages.
PS. Which theory makes more sense to you right now? Is your willpower limited and you use it up or do you believe that you just get tired of have-to's and prefer to do want-to's?
Fortune aka Professrr
I read a lot (a whole lot), listen to a lot of podcast, and ask a lot of questions. Then, I experiment in my life with the best stuff. Unless otherwise noted, I'm speaking from experience. Love me or hate me, it's all love over here!