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Are you working on willpower instead of joy?

I have very strong willpower. Something needs to be done…even though you’re tired or don’t like doing it? I used to tell myself “come on, no whining, just do it. Not everything is fun and you can rest after you are finished.” This is how I used my willpower for a big part of my life. To get things done that needed to be done. It helped me to get where I was in my career, it made me a reliable colleague and employee, it helped me to be a really good self-starter, it helped me to deal with any procrastination urges I had.

But I also used my willpower to ignore my boundaries, to ignore important signals my body and intuition were giving me. Working too long on willpower instead of joy and ignoring my boundaries for too long is what got me into a burnout in 2011. Where I always had seen my willpower as a really positive, creative, driving force, my burnout also showed me the dark side of working on willpower. For some time I saw my willpower as a bad thing.

Until a couple of years later during a silent retreat I could look at my willpower with mild eyes again. I could appreciate all the positive things my willpower had brought me, what it had generated in my life. Through these mild eyes I could see willpower as an old friend. And sometimes because you both grow and change, friends can grow apart and lose touch. I decided that I did not want to end my friendship with willpower, but that I wanted to change our friendship. To change the role willpower has in my life. I decided there and then that my friend willpower was very welcome in my life….not to help me ignore my boundaries, but to help me take good care of myself. To use my willpower to take a break when I need it. To take time to practice conscious selfcare when I need it. Even though there is a ton of work waiting for me.

Now I consciously call on my friend willpower to help me take care good of myself

  • When I am really tired and need to take a break but I am scared to do so. Because taking a break often feels scary when you also know there is a lot that needs to be done. When I feel this fear, I call on my friend willpower, to take that break anyway.
  • I use my willpower to give myself a kick in the butt to get my walking shoes on and go for a walk in the woods. After a walk in the woods I always feel more energized and it lifts my mood. I need my friend willpower for this. When I am tired the easiest thing would be to crash on the couch and watch mindless television or swipe through social media. But that does nothing for me to get me more energized and feel better.

So what is your relationship with willpower?  Are you primarily working on willpower instead of joy? Are you using your willpower to ignore your boundaries? Or are you using your willpower to take good care of yourself?

I would love to hear! Let me know in the comments or send me an email.


Did I get you thinking or did I give you a new perspective?
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© Copyright Samula Mescher