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Home » Behavior, Confidence Building, Featured, Happiness, Headline, Identity, Motivation, Problem Solving

How to Increase Willpower and Self-Control

Submitted by on June 17, 2013 – 11:40 pmNo Comment

change your mindimages

Author: Dr. Raymond Comeau

The brain, like a computer, needs to be studied and understood before it can be used effectively. In order to be able to increase the effectiveness of our willpower and self-control we need to know what directs our behavior.

There are two main forces controlling every action that we take and every decision that we make. The first is “the pain/pleasure instinct.” Everything you and I do, we do either out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure.

The pain/pleasure principle does not mean that we are on a constant pursuit of pleasure. What it does mean is that when two or more options are opened, one of those options will seem to be more enjoyable (or less painful) than the others and that is the option that we will naturally choose.

There are also times when a more difficult option will be chosen because there are promises of greater pleasure in the future. That would be the case of a young man who would choose to save his money to buy a car later on. Not spending the money right away is not the most pleasurable option at the moment but that option is overridden by the expectation of a much greater pleasure in the future.

The other main driving force that directs our behavior is the need to conform to our identity. We all act consistently with our views of who we truly are, whether that view is accurate or not. The reason is that one of the strongest forces in the human organism is the need for consistency.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz of Psycho-cybernetic fame said, “The “self-image” is the key to human personality and human behavior.” We always perform as we perceive ourselves to be. Going against our perceived identity would be like going against our fundamental beliefs; something that can happen in very rare and special occasions but certainly not the usual norm.

Now that we know what forces direct out lives, we have a clue as to how we can improve our willpower and self-control. What we need to do to improve our performance on self-control is to work with the mechanisms that direct our behavior, the pain-pleasure mechanism and the self-image or perceived identity.

We have to attach so much pleasure to following our chosen course of action and so much pain to not doing it that it will become impossible for us not to accomplish what we set out to do. On top of that, if need be, we must actually change the way that we perceive ourselves to be.

As an example, let us take the case of someone who finds it very difficult to maintain his ideal weight. To maintain the resolution to stay at a certain weight the person needs to attach so much pain to any weight increase and so much pleasure to maintaining the ideal weight that it becomes almost impossible to break the resolve.

To strengthen the resolve even more, the person can include in his self-image that being thin and in shape is who he truly is and being at the mercy of overeating is something that he is not.

By using the mechanisms of the pain/pleasure instinct and the directing guide of the self-image, willpower is practically no longer needed. We all know that willpower can be very effective for short term resolves but when it comes to long-term commitments, success is far from being certain.

The best way to increase the effectiveness of willpower and self-control is by directing our life in a way that they are only needed for short-term implications. For the long-term commitments, the pain/pleasure instinct and self-image mechanism will do a very effective job. Doing what we like and respecting the self-image is always easy to do. That should be a no-brainer.

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About the Author

Dr. Raymond Comeau aka Shamou is the Owner Administrator of the Personal Development for Personal Success Forums.

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