Willpower is like holding a 50-pound rock over your head.

rock1Eventually, your arms will get tired.

Eventually, you will drop the rock!

Willpower is not a muscle you can strengthen in the gym. Willpower is a button you can push when you need to supercharge your strength for a short period. It’s time to change your programming from willpower to personal power. What I mean by changing the programming is, we have to shift the use of power from sheer will to internal personal power.

The ability to restrain yourself or control yourself is not a characteristic you either have or don’t have. Willpower is not a rare quality that only a few possess, like elite-level athleticism or musical talent. Each of us has the power to exert our will, our personal power, and our ability to choose. The problem is, if we are always exerting our “power” in terms of brute strength, we will get exhausted. Willpower is like resistance training for four hours a day, especially when tempting foods are around.

Personal power is your ability to think, feel, and reason. We were all given personal power at birth—yes, you were born with it. We use personal power every day. We use our personal power to decide, plan activities and solve problems. It also fuels our ability to make changes that are important to us. We use our power when we stand up for ourselves, decide what’s right and wrong, and make value judgments which impact our behaviors.

Personal power is not measured by how swiftly you implement change, how long you keep a routine going, or how disciplined you are in doing the same things over and over. Personal power is the knowledge and understanding that you can change how you respond to the world around you. It’s deeper than self-discipline or willpower. It’s the fundamental understanding that your life is your own, and you have not only the responsibility but also the ability to make whatever changes you want to live the life you love.

Typically, when people are trying to lose weight, they focus on two things: first the end result and second the pain at the moment. If you’ve said to yourself, “This is so hard.” You are using willpower and focusing on the discomfort. Moreover, you are focusing on what you can’t have versus what you can have. If you are focusing on food, which is represented by the rock, you will be in a constant state of resistance. Eventually, your arms will get tired, and you will lose control, drop the rock, and feel like a failure. You are not a failure!

You have simply been tapping into your short-term strength rather than your long-term strength, personal power. Tapping into our internal or personal power gives us the ability to understand and take responsibility for our actions. We know our behaviors are choices.

To tap into your personal power, think about a time you felt powerful, confident, loved, and in control—a time you felt the way you want to feel all the time, especially around food. That is your personal power. Now put an image to that feeling, something in nature that represents that time you felt strength, power, and confidence. Use your image to focus on when you need to remind yourself of your personal power.

Example: The image I associate with feeling confident, powerful, and successful is an eagle. It represents something that is powerful and confident. What is your image? Choose the first one that comes to mind.

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