Willingness: The Secret to Self Control [VIDEO]

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willingness acceptance

Do you want to keep the promises you made to yourself and stick to your plan?

Whatever your challenge, eat less sugar, go for a run, empty your inbox, there are times you don’t feel like keeping the promise you made to yourself.

How overcome you cravings or do the demanding tasks that you just don’t feel like doing?

Willpower technique that increases your chances 2x

Jonathan Bricker’s work has uncovered a scientifically sound approach to behavior change that is twice as effective as most currently practiced methods. His new methods are driving new norms and new apps for how people quit smoking and decrease obesity, saving many people from an early death.

Jonathan is an internationally recognized scientific leader in a bold approach called acceptance and commitment therapy. A Stanford researcher called his use of the approach:

a breakthrough in behavioral research [that] has major public health implications for the major causes of preventable death.

Bricker and his team, having received $10 million in total federal research grants to study this topic, are rigorously testing this intervention on multiple platforms, including smartphone apps, websites, and telephone coaching. His SmartQuit app for quitting smoking was recently launched and is now in distribution worldwide.


This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

My Tweak on Willingness and Self Control

When I first saw this video about acceptance and willingness, I noticed the idea of the third person approach to self control. In this case, the speaker talked about how people say “I have a craving” and then try to overcome the temptation. Instead, he advised to change your self-talk just a little bit and say “I notice that I have a craving.”

Self Control by Observing from the Outside

I decided to experiment with that. The key here is to observe yourself as another person would. You know, when you watch a movie and think to yourself, how this person can be so stupid, weak, inconsistent, careless, and lack self control.

Now do it to yourself. Let’s say you quit smoking and feel the cravings. Focus on mentally examining yourself with genuine interest. Something like:

  • “Hmm, he really wants that cigarette.”
  • “I wonder if he’s able to hold off? It’s hard, but think about the feeling of accomplishment.”
  • “So, you want to get that pack of cigarettes? Well, I wouldn’t!”
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You can use this type of self-talk in almost all situations and defuse the situation. You will give yourself some time between the craving and breaking your commitment. This time will, in turn, let you compose yourself enough that you will be able to regain self control and resist the temptation.

When you repeatedly go through cycles like this, your brain will learn and becomes more resistant to the temptation. As a bonus, you can use the willpower you gain this way on any other demanding task.

self talk quote gino norris

Your self-talk is the channel of behavior change ― Gino Norris

How to remember the willingness approach?

The main problem with this willpower technique is that you may forget to use it.

For example, you are trying to lose weight and walk by the local bakery. Your brain goes, “I really need that box of donuts!”

You try to resist “I won’t, I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!” until you cave and observe yourself licking the last crumbs from your fingers.

Now you remember that you should have used the willingness technique.

Use some kind of physical memory aid to remember what you need to do.

I find one of the best solutions is a rubber band around your wrist. Every time you have a weak moment the band around your wrist will remind you what you need to do.

Whenever you use the help of the bracelet switch hands after you have dealt with the willpower emergency. This way you will not become accustomed to the band around your wrist.

The wristband should stay prominent in your brain for at least 30 days. In most cases, 30 days is enough to internalize the willingness technique, and you can stop using it.

Read more about remembering the things you have to do.

How to put this in action?

There’s a fair chance that you have some willpower challenge that you might use the willingness approach. Here’s what you need to do if you may have cravings:

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Create a script that you use every time you feel your willpower weaken. Let’s say you try to eat less and lose weight.

  • Interesting, Paul (that’s you), really craves the snack
  • He’s not hungry! He just wants the instant gratification of the sugar high. I wonder how long he can hold off.
  • When’s the next meal time? 2 hours? OK!
  • Maybe drink some water or tea without the sugar?
  • Think about the feeling you have after the next meal time when you can celebrate this small victory over your
  • What do you think? Can you hold off for a little bit more?

Running a dialogue based loosely on the similar script is like your personal coach. You know what you have to do, but you need a bit of motivation and encouragement. You can get it from yourself.

Another version is the situation where you have to do something that is hard, and you really don’t want to. Let’s say you need to go for a run. To make this work you have to set a specific time when you will go running.

When the time approaches and your brain is finding ways to weasel out of the responsibility you run the similar script in your head. Simply replace the craving for something with the desire to avoid the task:

  • Interesting, Paula, really doesn’t want to go for a run.
  • She’s not really tired! She just wants to sit there and chew mental gum. I wonder if she will break her promise to herself?
  • How long will the run take? Maybe an hour? OK!
  • Let’s put on the running clothes?
  • Think about the feeling you have after the run when you can celebrate this small victory over your laziness.

What do you think? Get out there now!

Next, you can take a look at this blog post if you want to get a first-hand account of how to quit smoking.

Willingness in related to acceptance and commitment therapy. Check out other videos about changing your habits.

Photo on Visual Hunt

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