The meaning of the word “willpower” is totally misrepresented, misunderstood and misused in the way we live today. 

Willpower is not meant to be used in the long term. Its function is to give our minds and bodies a quick burst in the event of an emergency, where we are at physical risk. For example, escaping from a burning building, getting out of a car that has been involved in an accident, defending ourselves from an attacker etc., etc. 

  What we tend to do, even though we may not be aware of it, is apply it when we are forcing ourselves to do something we don’t want to do! Losing weight, giving up smoking/drinking, even getting out of bed in the morning, to name but a few! 

We may consciously believe we want to do whatever it is, but the very fact we need willpower in order to do it, means there is a belief inside, we are probably not even aware of, that doesn’t want to. This is called an unconscious belief. We need to uncover that belief and resolve it. We need to ask ourselves “What is it in me that is not happy doing this so I am having to force myself using willpower?”

If we don’t do this and keep going through the use of willpower, it is a huge drain on our energy system, as we are in conflict with ourselves. If something else then starts to drain that system, such as being ill, stressed, not enough sleep, run down, etc., it is too much for our system and willpower collapses. 

This explains why people who are on a diet, giving up smoking/drinking, often “give in” to their craving for chocolate, cigarettes, alcohol, if they have an emotional upset. 

We then experience low self esteem and beat ourselves up for being “weak” and “having no willpower,” which is simply not true. It is just a belief we have around willpower (Or won’t power, as I prefer to call it!). 

Willpower in its truest sense is just that. Being willing to use the power that is in us. Not to force it, but to be really happy doing what we have set our intention on doing. And doing it with total enthusiasm, energy and motivation! And because we want to! 

So any time you find yourself resorting to “willpower” to do something, in other words, you are forcing yourself to do it, seek out the unconscious belief. What is it inside you that you need to address and resolve?  When you can answer that, you can then resolve it, and go ahead with it, because you are willing to, not because you are forcing yourself to.

Janet Wilks –


12 Comments for this entry

  • avatar jennyrcooper says:

    I love this phrase Janet. “Won’t power” has that touch of a defiant toddler or teenager doesn’t it? and is so relevant to the times when the chocolate or cake or cigarette is the choice we make – that moment of defiance, breaking some ‘rule’, even though we may be cutting off our nose to spite our face and setting back any progress we have made. When we are ready to make changes, we don’t need will or won’t power.

  • Janet,

    I completely agree with your blog. What frustrates me about ‘willpower’ is when it is used as a stick to beat others with. I have lost count of the amount of times that I have heard someone say “you have no willpower” to someone in the office etc.
    I believe in choice. You have a choice to be the way you are…a smoker etc, and only you can decide whether to change it. Once you have made the decision and are happy with it – then you can begin the process of change.

    • avatar janetwilks says:

      Exactly! When we make a choice do something we really want to do, rather than what we think we have to do or should do, it is as though we are pulled along, so no need to push ourselves using willpower! People who use willpower as a stick need to examine what’s really going on within themselves!

  • Won’t power – I’m going for that in the future. Especially as I have no Willpower when chocolate or cake are involved! A bit of won’t power might just help me to resist. But do I really want to be without chocolate and cake?

    • avatar janetwilks says:

      That’s what you have to ask yourself! And if you are having to use willpower the answer is probably No! Also a good clue in the word “resist” again pushing against something, which saps the energy levels, rather than being pulled along. So,do you really want to be without chocolate or cake? Answer yourself honestly, then there is something to work with!

  • avatar Samira Ali says:

    I am getting married later this year and have no ‘will power’ to go to the gym on a regular basis; part of the problem is that I can’t find a gym buddy. Janet your blog has inspired me to find the ‘will power’ to carry me to the gym!

    • avatar janetwilks says:

      Great stuff! Just remember if “willpower” rears its ugly head and you’re unsure why, just take a step back and ask yourself “What is it about this that means I am having to use willpower?” And the answer will come,(maybe not immediately and maybe as a hunch, or just a thought that pops up!) because you are bringing it into your awareness!

  • avatar Jane Wintringham says:

    Wow Janet your pot is so well timed! I have been struggling with my diet. Looking for that inner conflict as to why it wasn’t working was really useful (amounted to I should lose weight v feeling deprived of everything that I like to eat!)in doing so I recognised my old friend I tend to ignore my inner child!

    • avatar janetwilks says:

      Once you start to look for the reasons, they do usually make themselves known! We know ourselves somewhere inside it’s just sometimes we just don’t know we know! We always do! Just have to trust ourselves to come up with the answer!

  • avatar Rachel Swann says:

    Janet this post is absolutely spot on. Forcing ourselves to do things we either consciously or unconsciously don’t want to do just leads to stress and discontent and this is exactly what ‘willpower’ is.

    In order to make any change we have to choose to do it and use the power from within, to decide to do it and to want to succeed no matter what. Sometimes, in order to do that we have to challenge our existing and underlying beliefs, and sometimes even our identity (for example ‘I have an addictive personality which is why I can’t stop smoking / eating / drinking’) but this is something we have to choose to do too.

    Unfortunately, so many people don’t understand this and think that by using willpower or as Barbara said, shaming others into using willpower that it will have the desired effect.

    • avatar janetwilks says:

      Exactly! It is understanding that when we do something because we want to, nothing will stop us! If we have an awareness that using willpower means that consciously or unconsciously we do not want to do whatever it is we are doing, then we can step back and examine the reasons why! May mean we need to dig about in the subconscious a bit and just having the awareness means it is more likely to make itself known. Great comments Rachel, thank you!

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