Will Power or Motivation?

I have, on several occasions in my life, had very good will power, enabling me to give ‘things’ up. When I was 11(ish) I stopped sucking my thumb (I know, quite late in life!), at 16/17 I stopped biting my nails, at 23 I stopped eating rubbish and lost weight for my wedding and at 26/27 I stopped smoking. When I was expecting all 3 children I stopped drinking, stopped eating runny eggs and the cheeses as I was told and cut out peanuts. With my last pregnancy I even managed to cut out chocolate and all sweet things as I had gestational diabetes! I have also managed several times to be careful what I eat and do some exercises.

Now however, I find myself in a strange place I seem to have no will power, I spend my days eating food that is high in sugar and low in healthiness! I want to lose a few pounds and tone up a bit as my clothes are starting to get a little tight, and I refuse to buy bigger clothes! I have also been drinking wine, which at the moment I really shouldn’t as my mental health is not great and alcohol is a depressant, but I just can’t stop myself. I know the things I SHOULD be doing but my will power seems to have taken off somewhere and I am unable to find it, but then I wonder if it’s all down to motivation and if I found motivation I would find will power hiding there too?

Where my will power has totally let me down is with self-harm, I cut myself for the first time in September 2011, I managed to stop at the end of October 2011 but 15 months later at the end of January (i think) this year I cut myself again, and have done a few times since. It’s not something that is easy to explain with the why I do such a silly thing, and this post isn’t about that, but it’s almost like an addiction.

I am now at a point where I seem to have no will power to be healthy no will power to not self-harm (although have managed a week without) and no motivation to be healthy or stop being daft! But, are will power and motivation the same thing?

Whether they are the same or not, I have definitely mislaid them both, if anyone has any good suggestions on how to entice them back I am all ears!


9 thoughts on “Will Power or Motivation?

  1. Poor you, my heart goes out to you for your searing honesty with us. The problem with this type of self-destructive behaviour is that it is habit forming, and the more you succumb to the habit the worse you feel for having failed to resist and that eats away at your belief in your ability to overcome it even further.
    You could try a break in your routine, a change of scene – any chance of a weekend getaway? Or do something that helps you see your self-worth clearly, like volunteering at a charity shop, or walking rescue dogs. Sometimes, when the self-harm urge strikes, the picture of you and the good things you’re doing doesn’t fit with the SH and you find the resistance in yourself to fight it.
    Try and get out for walks now the weather is improving. Don’t ever underestimate the power of the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair for refreshing a jaded soul.
    Be kind to yourself in your thoughts, don’t let the voice in your head put you down.
    Biggest thing: look outward not in. If you can, distract yourself with the simple beauty in what’s around you, the wonder of children, the love of your husband and friends. Try and find ways to help others, get involved and hopefully, in time, the feelings will pass and you’ll realise it’s been a while.
    It’s only happening because you’re feeling low. Hang in there – you can make it xxx

    1. Thank you for your kind words of support. I’m not able to get involved with anything at the moment (as much as I might want to at times) as I end up getting all anxious about everything and then feel worse. My CPN has suggested that I take each day at a time and not aim for anything too big. I am in the process of planning what to do with a shaded border in the front garden, so I am hoping that will help me. I know that you can emplathise with the feelings, so its good to know that it is possible to get through it again. X

  2. Hi there, it sounds like you’ve done amazingly well with your will power in the past – but maybe what you need isn’t to deny yourself will will-power (a negative thing, in itself) as motivate yourself (a positive)?

    To be overly simplistic, people tend to fall into one of two motivational camps – the “towards” or “away from”. So, if you put that in an advertising context, some people will want to be told “here’s how to get healthier, have more energy and enjoy life – buy our product!”. Whereas others will respond better to, “If you buy our product, you’ll avoid getting sick, having no friends or getting fat!”.

    I’ve found that knowing the kind of person I am (definitely a “towards” person, motivated by the positive) helps me work out a strategy for doing something. Maybe you have good self-discipline, but are actually more positively motivated – so although your discipline has help you “give things up” in the past, it will only work in the short term. Perhaps working out what you do want to happen – rather than what you don’t – might help?

    Obviously, with something like self-harm, you need the negative, the “stop it” bit first. But if you can identify something you’d really like to do as well (rather than just, “be healthy”, which is quite unspecific and doesn’t sound like much fun!) to treat yourself, it might motivate you more?

    Or maybe you’re motivated by accountability to other people? Some people like to have a “buddy” who they tell of their success or failure. Or maybe you prefer keeping your own counsel.

    Anyway, i’m waffling and this was totally unsolicited, so please ignore if you think I’m barking up the wrong tree (or just barking). 🙂

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment, I think I understand where you are coming from and yes accountability is usually a good one for me, (it was NJ) but even that didn’t stop me this time. It’s definately something I will return to in a few weeks.

  3. Great post. I too seem to have mislaid motivation and will power! Although I have the odd day here and there when I have tons and loads of energy and get loads done. My husband finds it very frustrating but I think from his point of view it would be!!

  4. I think maybe motivation is something that’s natural, it’s intrinsic when its about something you want to do. You don’t have to think or make an effort to be motivated. If you want to do it, you’re motivated to do it.

    Will power without motivation to accompany it is a waste of time. If you’re not motivated to do something, using will power alone will always feel like such a huge effort. Being motivated and having will power is the winning combination I think!

    I found that when i hit rock bottom, I just had to stop beating myself up over everything. if i didn’t go running, or if I ate that extra cake, or whatever. I had to stop criticising myself for everything and anything I could find. My motivation at that point was to eat cake, sleep a lot and laze around. And as soon as I was ok with that, the motivation to do other things came back. Allow yourself the time and space, and be gentle with yourself.

    1. Thank you for your comment, that’s definately food for thought. I will try and stop beating myself up about the lack of motovation and try and just ‘be’.

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