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Rethinking Willpower: Navigating Growth with Psychosynthesis

Willpower, often known as the force behind self-control and the ability to override immediate gratification for long-term goals, involves making choices that align with one’s values and objectives even in the face of challenges or temptations. It is therefore often seen as a defence mechanism against self-sabotage, as self-sabotage involves behaviours or thought patterns that undermine these goals. Remember those days when you are about to make progress but find yourself deep into a Netflix marathon? These are the moments when your willpower is on the fritz and self-sabotage is running the show. Before we go on, learn more about overcoming everyday struggles like this here.

For decades, one of the key challenges in the pursuit of willpower has been the concept of ego depletion, as suggested by the limited resource model. This model proposes that self-control is a finite resource that can be depleted with use. Engaging in acts of self-control, whether when we make tough choices or resist temptations, can lead to a state of ego depletion where willpower is diminished, making subsequent acts of self-control more challenging. In other words, the harder we worked today, the less we can resist eating that cake.

But what if that’s not the case?

According to a study by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, ego depletion was only seen in individuals who perceived willpower as a finite resource, indicating that ego depletion is merely the placebo effect at work. Moreover, Michael Inzlicht of the University of Toronto suggests that willpower is more like an emotion. We cannot “run out” of willpower, just as we cannot “run out” of joy or rage. Instead, feeling as though our willpower is waning indicates that we are not engaged with the work at hand. You know those moments when you scroll on your phone more than usual while working, or find yourself procrastinating when you have an article or report due? If this motivation acts like an emotion rather than a battery that drains with each decision, we can learn to ride out negative feelings when faced with a challenging task. When this lack of mental energy is permanent, however, we should listen to our willpower, just like how we do to our emotions. If we ignore our emotions, we will never achieve our full potential.

Mindset Matters—Psychosynthesis as a Solution

If Dweck’s findings hold and that self-defeating thoughts can cause ego depletion, the notion that willpower is a limited resource could bring us harm. Fortunately, psychosynthesis, developed by Roberto Assagioli, is a holistic approach that can offer a new perspective on revamping our willpower. Psychosynthesis acknowledges the existence of a higher self and promotes the alignment of personal desires that reflect our highest values, motivation, and potential. In this approach, self-sabotage can be facilitated by limiting beliefs or a negative self-perception, which weakens willpower. Through psychosynthesis, individuals can work on transforming these negative thoughts. In this way, we can cultivate a positive mindset, allowing us to use our willpower more consistently.

"The will is the central power of our individuality, the innermost essence of our self; therefore, in a certain sense, the discovery of the will means the discovery of our true being." - Assagioli

Let’s take a break from the theoretical realm, what can we do practically?

Set Realistic Goals Aligned with Values

Willpower often falters when goals are unrealistic or incompatible with our core beliefs. Psychosynthesis encourages individuals to explore their values, goals, and life purpose. Spend some time defining and identifying your values. What matters most to you in life? Make a list of your top values, and evaluate how well your current objectives match these values. Willpower naturally increases when the goals resonate with the Higher Self.

Cultivate a Growth-Oriented Mindset

Developing a growth-oriented mindset is essential in the journey to transform willpower. Psychosynthesis emphasises the importance of seeing challenges as opportunities for learning and development. By adopting a mindset that embraces the possibility of change and development, individuals can overcome setbacks with resilience, sustaining their willpower over time.

Mindfulness and Presence: Tools for Willpower Reinforcement

Psychosynthesis incorporates mindfulness and presence as essential tools for self-awareness. By staying present in the moment, individuals can observe their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, providing them with valuable insights into the variables that may affect willpower. Mindfulness practices also provide a foundation for making conscious choices and redirecting focus away from self-sabotaging patterns.

In the end, psychosynthesis acts as a guiding compass that offers a comprehensive and empowering method for personal growth. By connecting with the Higher Self, setting values-based goals, developing a growth-oriented mindset, and embracing mindfulness, individuals can slowly and steadily amplify their willpower.

Psychosynthesis is a major part of our coaching program.

If you are ready to rewrite your willpower story or want to learn more about psychosynthesis, contact us today!

Let us assist you in establishing new Self goals for 2024 ✨

Xin Yi Ng (Michelle)

Research & Development Lead

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